Click here to read about other counterfeit medicine incidents from the Lone Star State

In the past few weeks, cases against members of a major counterfeit pill ring that authorities busted in San Antonio in 2017 have moved forward. MySanAntonio.com first reported in the second half of June that Alaa Mohammed Allawi, the ringleader of the pill mill, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl resulting in death or serious bodily injury and using a gun during a drug crime. The drugs sold by Allawi’s drug ring resulted in the overdose death of a U.S. Marine in North Carolina, according to court records and prosecutors.  

At the beginning of July, MySanAntonio.com wrote two articles updating the status of two other defendants in the case, Fernando “Kalifa” Padilla Becerra and Jason Ray Saucedo. Becerra was one of several suppliers for the drug ring. Under federal law, Becerra can be held responsible for the entire output of the drug ring. Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra listed the number of counterfeit pills sold by the ring from 2015 to 2017 as 359,553 fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl, 342,551 fake Adderall pills made with meth, and 145,395 fake Xanax pills laced with cocaine. For his role in the creation and selling of over 800,000 counterfeit pills, the judge sentenced Becerra to 21 years in federal prison. The pills were made using commercial pill presses purchased from companies in China.

Saucedo was one of several people who distributed the pills made by Allawi’s drug ring online, and although a plea agreement has been filed, details are unavailable at this time. Allawi’s drug ring also sold some of the pills locally. It was this influx of prescription drugs being distributed on campus at the University of Texas in San Antonio (UTSA) that initially started the investigation. After a series of arrests and seizures, the San Antonio Police Department, UTSA police, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration identified Allawi as the ringleader of the drug organization that was manufacturing and distributing the pills.

Allawi’s plea agreement has him facing 30 years in prison and agreeing to forfeit cash, virtual currency, multiple vehicles, and other items. Additionally, Allawi agreed to a $14.3 million judgment. This figure is the amount of money that prosecutors allege the drug ring made selling the counterfeit pills.

Counterfeit pills made with fentanyl have been found in Texas and 47 other states since 2015. To read about other incidents in the Lone Star State, PSM’s 2018 Texas Infosheet is available online.