(CBSDFW.COM/CNN) — An El Paso man was arrested last week and charged with practicing medicine without a medical license for selling and administering fraudulent COVID-19 treatments, according to the Texas Department of Public Service.
Hugo Chico, 39, was arrested on Oct. 5 by the DPS Criminal Investigations Division Special Agents and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) during an undercover operation, Texas DPS confirmed in an email to CNN.READ MORE: Dallas Neighborhood Crime Spike Has Many Questioning, 'Is Uptown Going Downhill?'
Investigators, who were tipped off in July through an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip, found that he was giving medical treatments to try and prevent the virus and was charging patients hundreds of dollars, according to the DPS.
Chico was charged with a 3rd degree felony of practicing without a medical license and booked into El Paso County Jail. Records show he bonded out on Oct. 6.
On Oct. 9, the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas announced in a press release that authorities have obtained a temporary restraining order against Chico to ensure that he and anyone else working with him will stop advertising and performing treatments for COVID-19.
The government “is employing a federal statute that permits federal courts to issue injunctions to prevent harm to potential victims of fraudulent schemes,” according to the release.READ MORE: Dallas Police Respond To 3 Shootings, 1 Major Crash Over Weekend
Any individual who received unauthorized coronavirus prevention treatments from Chico is asked to contact HSI El Paso, the release states. Authorities also encourage those individuals to contact their primary care physician or local health department to get tested for the virus.
The Justice Department warned residents to be wary of anyone offering a COVID-19 vaccine, cure or treatment as officials said if a vaccine becomes available, residents shouldn’t hear about it for the first time through an email, online ad or unsolicited sales pitch.
El Paso has seen a surge in coronavirus cases recently. On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he is sending state resources to help support hospitals in the area.
On Monday, El Paso Department of Public Health announced 424 new positive cases and 6,145 active cases. They have reported a total of 28,934 cases since the pandemic started.
There are 313 people hospitalized in the region with COVID-19 and 89 in the ICU.MORE NEWS: Laredo Border Patrol Officers Seize Methamphetamine Worth More Than Half A Million Dollars
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