ACTION: Raise penalties for manufacturing fake pills using illegal pill presses

Drug counterfeiters are rarely prosecuted for using Illegal pill presses, even though the machines cost American lives. Help increase the criminal penalties for those caught distributing controlled substances with them.


Illegal pill presses are the source of a great many counterfeits that harm Americans. Over the past five years, families in 39 states lost family members to counterfeit pills, many of them made here in America using illegal pill presses and molds. Penalties for possessing an illegal pill press are not significant enough to deter criminals from using them. In fact, possession of an illegal pill press or mold is a crime that's rarely even charged by prosecutors.

We aim to change that.

Current Status:

Representative Kustoff of Tennessee and Senator Cassidy of Louisiana introduced the CAST Act in both houses of Congress in September 2019. Neither bill has left committee.

What you can do:

Constituents need to create interest in the CAST Act order to make it law.

Use the form at the right to tell your elected officials in the House and Senate to co-sponsor HR 4510, the Criminalizing Abused Substance Templates (CAST) Act from Rep. Kustoff (R-TN-8) and Rep. Spanberger (D-VA-7) and S. 2573 from Sen. Cassidy (R-LA) and Sen. Hassan (D-NH).

Background / resources:

Stories about counterfeit drugs and pill presses

Counterfeit Medicine: Crime and Policy, October 20, 2020

October 21, 2020

A summary briefing of 2020’s major cases, worrying trends and a deep dive into drug supply chain policy issues.

Counterfeit Medicines Are a Problem in the European Union—A Problem that is Continuing to Grow

February 9, 2020

According to a report from Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Threat Assessment 2019, “Counterfeit pharmaceuticals pose a growing threat to the EU, affecting a large number of Member States. A wide and increasingly diverse range of medicines is targeted by counterfeiters.”
The Europol ICP Threat Assessment reports that there has been an increase in seizures of counterfeit drugs used in the treatment of serious illnesses, as well as a growing number of counterfeit drug incidents affecting the legal drug supply chain. 

Six People in Georgia Have Been Indicted For Manufacturing and Selling Counterfeit Xanax and Fentanyl Pills

May 28, 2019

A group of six people, five men and one woman all in their early twenties have been indicted on federal charges that they were using industrial pill presses to make counterfeit Xanax and fentanyl/carfentanil pills. They are also accused of selling the fake pills throughout Georgia via the Internet.

Mayor Up for Re-Election in Tennessee Arrested with Fake Pills and the Pill Press that Made Them

May 15, 2019

Red Boiling Springs mayor Joel Rae Coe has been arrested on drug trafficking charges after a year-long joint investigation between the Macon County Sheriff’s Department the Red Boiling Springs Police Department, the Lafayette Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Authorities found 3 bags of 10 milligram hydrocodone pills, one page of 7.5 milligram hydrocodone pills, two bags of 10 milligram oxycodone pills, 154 morphine pills, 48 unidentifiable white pills, a pharmaceutical pill press and four pounds of a white powder that authorities believe is a fentanyl compound.

Senators Cassidy, Hassan, Kustoff and Kuster Reintroduce Pill Press Legislation, The STEER Act

April 22, 2019

The proposed legislation, H.R. 6554, will require that anyone who owns, purchases or imports pill press must be registered them with the U.S. Attorney General.

Large-Scale Counterfeit Fentanyl Pill Press Operation Found In Akron, Ohio Home

February 22, 2019

The U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against an Akron, Ohio resident after a search of his home turned up items “consistent with a large-scale pill press operation.” Donyea Nelson received a nine-count indictment in federal court, which included charges for possession of fentanyl, possession of a pill press, and possession of die molds…

Seattle Area Drug Trafficker Allegedly Used Pill Press to Make Counterfeit Xanax

December 14, 2018

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 addition to the discovery of a handgun, investigators found approximately 11,000 ‘Xanax’ pills stored in large plastic bags, and a large pill press.

Three Arrested For Making Fake Oxycodone Pills In An Apartment Building In New York City

October 23, 2018

A long-term investigation in New York City into a drug ring ended with the arrest of three men. One of the men was a superintendent who allegedly allowed the residential building’s boiler room and a vacant apartment to be used to manufacture counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl and heroin…

Maryland Man Admits To Making And Selling Over 920,000 Fake Xanax Pills

October 11, 2018

The U.S. Department of Justice announced a guilty plea from Ryan Farace of Maryland. In less than four years, he manufactured and sold over 920,000 counterfeit Xanax pills on various online marketplaces…

Man Pleads Guilty In Arkansas After Making Counterfeit Oxycodone Pills At His Home

October 4, 2018

Lewis Chafin of Fayetteville, Arkansas pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of possession of a tableting or encapsulating machine with the intent to manufacture fentanyl. After receiving a tip, a search of Chafin’s home by law enforcement turned up 43 counterfeit oxycodone pills, various pharmaceutical powders – including fentanyl, oxycodone, morphine, zolpidem, and alprazolam – and a pill press…