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One of China’s first influencers gets jail time for selling diet pills containing banned drug

    A Chinese social media personality was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for allegedly “selling poisonous and harmful food.”

    Banned substance: Guo Meiling, a 30-year-old online influencer also known as Guo Meimei, was found guilty in January and February of selling diet candy and pills which contained the appetite suppressant sibutramine, reported South China Morning Post.

    • Sibutramine, which has been associated with multiple serious side effects, is banned in China and several other countries.
    • Guo was one of the 32 people who were caught selling or producing commercial products with the sibutramine, according to the state-run Global Times.
    • On top of the prison sentence, Guo was also fined 200,000 yuan (around $31,280) while her accomplice, Wang Zouya, will serve seven months of jail time and must pay a fine of 10,000 yuan (around $1,600).
    • China’s Criminal Law states that anyone who “mixes harmful substances into food for sale, or sells such food knowingly, can be sentenced to up to five years in prison.” This sentence could be extended for up to 10 more years if the product “caused an accident or other damages.”

    Not the first time: Guo, one of the first prominent online influencers in China, has run into problems with Chinese authorities in the past for her social media activities.

    • In 2011, she faced backlash after allegedly claiming to be the manager of an organization under the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC).
    • The manner in which Guo flaunted her lavish lifestyle online negatively impacted the RCSC’s reputation despite the eventual denial from Guo and the RCSC on having any relations.
    • In 2014, Guo appeared on state television in prison attire and cried while apologizing for her luxurious lifestyle and her previous claims that affected the RCSC.

    • In 2015, Guo was found guilty of running a casino. She was given a five-year prison sentence and a fine of 50,000 yuan (around $7,800). She was released from prison four years later.

    Featured Image via Your Studio有耳工作室

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