Federal drug trafficking charges have been filed against Gizachew Wondie, a resident of the Capitol Hill section of Seattle, on charges that he was manufacturing and selling counterfeit Xanax pills and other drugs. In a complaint for violation filed December 7th, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington described what investigators uncovered when they searched Wondie’s apartment.
In addition to the discovery of a handgun, investigators found approximately 11,000 ‘Xanax’ pills stored in large plastic bags, and a large pill press. “This pill press appeared to the same variety described by both S1 and a Pfizer representative who provided expertise to law enforcement on the kinds of pill presses used to make ‘Xanax” tablets in bulk,” the complaint noted.
The Seattle Police Department blotter described Wondie as “a prolific drug trafficker in the East Precinct Area.”
Capitol Hill Seattle reports that Wondie was originally arrested in possession of 67 ‘Oxycodone’ pills, 18 ‘Adderall’ pills, and 5 ½ ‘Xanax’ pills, along with 17 grams of cocaine. According to the complaint, all the pills found by investigators have been identified by their markings only, and have not yet been tested for drug contents.
The complaint against Wondie notes that production of counterfeit Xanax can be an extremely lucrative business, with potential counterfeiters paying $20,000 for enough active drug ingredients to make pills with a street value in the millions of dollars range.
Special Agent with Homeland Security Investigations Tammy Spencer has investigated this case, with help from the Seattle Police Department and the Kings County Sheriff’s Office.