Influencer Guo Meimei, a pioneer in wealth-flaunting on social media in China, was arrested again. Back in 2014, she was sentenced to 5 years in prison for operating a casino (ostensibly to cover up other shady deals involving the Red Cross Society in China). She was released in 2019 after which she quickly regained her place on social media. She was back to her old self (albeit a very different face) and her old habit of flaunting her wealth. Not surprisingly she got into trouble again. This time, the story is a lot less complicated. She was tried for the crime of producing and selling toxic and harmful substances. The verdict was announced on 18 October 2021.
According to reports, the Shanghai Railway Transportation Court found the defendants Guo Meimei and Wang Zouya guilty of selling toxic and harmful foods substances. Guo Meimei was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and a fine of 200,000 yuan for the crime while the defendant Wang Zouya was sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 yuan.
According to previous official reports, starting from September 2020, a certain individual by the name of Mr Zhou supplied a weight-loss candy produced by the manufacturing plant run by Mr Zeng. Sales and distribution of the candy were managed by agents Zhao, Li and others. Mr Zhao supplied the product nationwide through WeChat and other channels.
In January 2021, Zhao recruited previously jailed influencer Guo Mei Mei (real name Guo Meizhen) as his sales agent. Using her social media presence, Guo Mei Mei promoted the weight-loss candy through WeChat and Weibo.
Sibutramine, a banned substance which is known for severe life-threatening side effects, was detected in the diet candy after many users ended up in hospital. The substance is believed to have been deliberately added to the candy to give it weight/fat trimming effect.
Court documents revealed that the candy Guo Mei Mei sold cost 69 yuan per drop while the cost was only 80 jiao. Medical experts testified that apart from causing the consumer to lose weight, sibutramine, an ingredient that is prohibited by the state, can harm the human heart and brain, blood vessels, liver, kidneys and even cause sudden death.
Sibutramine was originally a prescription drug for severely obese patients. It was listed as a banned drug in China on October 30, 2010 and it was forbidden to be added to foods including weight-loss products after its life-threatening effects became known.
According to relevant laws and regulations, sibutramine is classified as a “toxic and harmful food additive.” The illegal production and sale of weight-loss candies laced with sibutramine constitutes the offence of producing and selling toxic and harmful food substances in accordance with Chinese law.
In the case involving Guo Mei Mei, the police cracked down on 3 production sites and 24 sales sites, seizing more than 65,000 packets of toxic weight-loss “health foods” and about 34 kg of raw materials, 3 production lines, and more than 20,000 packaging boxes. The market value of the products seized is estimated to be more than 50 million yuan.
Below. The slimming candy that Guo Mei Mei sold on her live stream. Each piece was sold for 69 yuan. Influencers should never sell things they cannot control. Of course in this case, Guo Mei Mei knew exactly what she was doing and no high-ranking officials are implicated.
I still find it incredible how a person who has so little talent other than showing off, editing selfies and enduring the pain of plastic surgery (not that I’m against any of that but they are not credentials per se) can get so many people to trust her recommendations. What will she think of next?