Federal Agents Break Up Large Counterfeit Pill Rings in Stockton and Newport Beach, California

Eight people in Stockton have been indicted after an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of over 50 overdoses in the Sacramento area in 2016 that included 12 deaths. The Sacramento Bee reports that the large-scale counterfeit pill making operation in Stockton was turning out thousands of counterfeit prescription pills made with fentanyl, methamphetamine, and heroin.

According to KCRA, investigators in the case found a pill press at a house on Benlow Drive in Stockton capable of producing 5,000 fake pills an hour. The criminal complaint filed with the courts against Barnes and his co-conspirators notes the Barnes and his crew are alleged to have been making counterfeit Norco (hydrocodone) pills, counterfeit “Roxy” (oxycodone) pills, and counterfeit Xanax pills.

In Newport Beach, three people pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, as well as other related charges, reports the Los Angeles Times. Duc “Kevin” Cao, Isaiah Suarez, and Wyatt Pasek were indicted in a federal complaint in April 2018 for buying fentanyl and cyclopropyl fentanyl, pressing and then selling counterfeit pills made to resemble 30 mg oxycodone hydrochloride pills labeled “A/215.” Allegedly, they used dark net sites to sell the counterfeit pills and sent them via the mail. Cao was sentenced to seven years and three months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.  Suarez is scheduled for sentencing on June 24, and Pasek is scheduled for sentencing on August 26.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the affidavit attached to the complaint said the trio pressed the drugs at Suarez’s home and distributed through the U.S. Postal Service. A confidential source informed FBI agents that one of the defendants had a stash of 100,000 pills.

Tosh Ackerman, counterfeit pill victim from Aptos

Jerome Butler, counterfeit pill victim from Sacramento

Michael Cipolla, counterfeit pill victim from Camp Pendleton

Matthew Matich, counterfeit pill victim from San Pedro