Counterfeit Xanax Is A Growing Problem Across The U.S.

Photo from SF Public Health

An alarming trend that has been popping up across the United States and it is vital that people be aware: counterfeit Xanax. Made with fentanyl or produced illegally from chemicals purchased online, these recent stories from Texas, California, Massachusetts, and North Carolina illustrate how widespread the problem is.

The Berkshire Eagle recently reported on the arraignment of 18-year-old Ethan Morris of Housatonic, MA after he was arrested for selling counterfeit Xanax pills purchased on the Internet to undercover police officers. Police started their investigation after two concerned Monument Mountain Regional High School employees reported that students were using “some kind of super Xanax.” During a police interview after his arrest, Morris admitted that the pills he sold were “double the dose” of prescription Xanax. The larger dose confirms facts relayed in a police report: “…students having a more intense reaction to the drug than what was expected.” Morris said he purchased 1,100 pills, but denied reports that he had been selling them at school.

According to The Press Democrat, students selling Xanax, either their own prescribed pills, taken from home, or purchased off of illegal websites is a huge concern for school officials in Sonoma County in California. Those officials and law enforcement agree that Xanax is the most widely abused prescription drug among students. Sgt. Dave Linscomb of the Santa Rosa Police Department said a student in the school district was taken to the hospital after overdosing on too much Xanax and that this is a problem they have seen citywide. Only part of a counterfeit Xanax pill made with fentanyl can kill. Petaluma City Schools Student Services Assistant Superintendent Dave Rose warned that “If students don’t see it as harmful, they’re going to partake.”

According to the Amarillo Globe-News, the police department there issued a warning to residents after 2,000 counterfeit Xanax pills made with fentanyl were intercepted en route to the town. A police statement said: “Anyone who purchases pills sold ‘on the street’ as Xanax or any other substance is risking overdose and death. Previous reporting on WLOX shows this is the second time in less than a year that Amarillo police issued a warning about counterfeit Xanax containing fentanyl being sold on there.

Matthew Yensan of Raleigh, North Carolina pleaded guilty in federal court of possession with the intent to distribute a quantity of alprazolam, according to WRAL. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) received a tip in July 2017 that Yensan was mass producing Xanax out of a storage unit and selling those pills on the internet. Authorities seized 400 pounds of Xanax precursors and benzodiazepine, 70,000 counterfeit Xanax pills, 200 to 300 postal shipping boxes already filled with orders of various sizes, three industrial pill presses, two electric mixers, and an electronic pill counter. At Yensan’s home, DEA agents seized more prescription drugs, over $250,000 locked in a safe, multiple guns, BitCoin storage cards, and a fake South Carolina driver’s license that was used to rent the storage unit. Yensan has yet to be sentenced.