Counterfeiters Coerced U.S. Man to Drive 20,000 Counterfeit Pills Across Mexico-U.S. Border

Caption: 20,000 fentanyl pills concealed in Peraza’s car
Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) accepted a guilty plea from a U.S. citizen who was caught in August attempting to smuggle over 20,000 counterfeit oxycodone laced with fentanyl into the country, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Fernando Jesus Peraza tried to enter the U.S. at the San Ysidro Port of Entry around 2:30 AM on August 8, 2018. A U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) agent noticed an abnormality when a density reading device was passed over the car driven by Peraza and sent the vehicle for additional screening.

According to court documents, a CBP agent and a canine unit were assigned for the secondary inspection. In the passenger rear side quarter panel, agents found the fentanyl pills. Peraza waived his Miranda rights and spoke with agents with Homeland Security Investigations and admitted that he knew there were drugs in his vehicle, but claimed only to be participating because his family had been threatened.

At the time of Peraza’s arrest, U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said, “This is the biggest fentanyl pill seizure we’ve seen along the Southwest Border, and it’s likely a national record.” In a press release announcing Peraza’s guilty plea, Braverman said, “Counterfeit pills are especially dangerous because users often don’t know they are ingesting fentanyl. With overdoses taking a life every eight minutes, federal law enforcement agencies are prioritizing prosecution of every individual who smuggles and distributes this deadly substance. Thanks to the vigilance of CBP, these deadly pills will not see the streets of our communities.”

Peraza faces up to ten years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for February 1, 2019. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Hobson is prosecuting this case.