On March 15th, two different busts in Arizona highlighted the problems the Grand Canyon State is having with counterfeit pills.
In Phoenix, narcotics investigators seized 15,000 counterfeit pills containing fentanyl during a raid on a hotel room in west Phoenix, according to ABC15. 38-year-old Emmanuel Romero Hernandez was arrested and authorities also found two handguns and $9,000 in cash.
That same day, The Department of the Interior reported the seizure of over 30,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl being trafficked by Mexican drug cartels. The drugs arrived in the United States via U.S. ports of entry on Tohono O'odham Nation tribal lands. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Drug Agents and the NATIVE Task Force, along with the Department of Security Investigations Special Response Team and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, ran the undercover operation.
In addition to bulk counterfeit pill busts like these continuing to happen in Arizona there is also at least one case of Arizona residents trafficking counterfeit pills made with fentanyl to other states. The Courier-Press reports that two Arizona residents, Crystal Vidal and Joshua Carr, were arrested along with 8 other individuals from Indiana. The ten are alleged to have been shipping the illicit pills from Arizona to Indiana.
An ABC15 news story on fentanyl in Arizona has pointed out that while fentanyl was involved in only 4% of drug fatalities in Arizona in 2011, by 2016, that number had risen to 29%.