Counterfeit Medicine News for February 15, 2021
COVID-19 counterfeits and fraud:
The Department of Homeland Security seized more than 11 million counterfeit N95 masks in five states and notified approximately 6,000 suspected victims of a massive fake mask scam in recent weeks. Those victims included hospitals and medical facilities in at least 12 states.
In addition, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Cincinnati, Ohio reported that they had seized 16 pallets of counterfeit N95 masks—enough to fill an entire sea container. The fakes, which were on their way from Hong Kong to Quebec, were marked “made in the USA” and had the seals and lot numbers of known counterfeits.
A New Jersey laboratory is suing Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. for selling them faulty equipment that led to false and invalid COVID-19 test results. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a public alert about Thermo Fisher's COVID-19 testing products in August 2020.
The New York State Department of Financial Services warned that it had received reports that criminals were using data from fake websites providing instant rate quotes to fraudulently apply for pandemic-related and unemployment benefits.
Police in Mexico arrested six people in the northern border state of Nuevo León for allegedly trafficking fake coronavirus vaccines.
Experts in the United Kingdom continue to warn residents about organized crime running COVID-vaccine phishing scams, and the European Union's anti-fraud office, OLAF, warned about scammers offering to sell vaccines to EU governments as they face supply-related delays.
Dominican national Brayan Gonzalez received a 46-month sentence for distributing heroin and fentanyl in and around Waterbury, Massachusetts. When Gonzalez was arrested in October 2019 law enforcement seized 1,000 counterfeit Percocet made with fentanyl and numerous blue pills with oxycodone markings, among large volumes of other illicit drugs.
San Fernando Valley, California oncologists Stanley Rossman and Mark Goldstein pleaded guilty to purchasing more than $1 million in illegally imported, non-FDA approved cancer drugs from Montana Healthcare between 2008 and 2011. Their medical practice was among 135 practices nationwide that the FDA warned to stop buying cancer treatments from Quality Special Products, also known as Montana Health Care Solutions, in 2012.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey has charged three New York men for their alleged roles in a drug distribution ring that sold fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine in New Jersey. A search on January 29, 2021, yielded almost seven pounds of suspected fentanyl pills and suspected methamphetamine pills, two pill presses among other illicit drugs.
CBP at Arizona’s Port of Nogales has seized 385,000 fentanyl pills among more than 530 pounds of other illicit drugs since February 1, 2021.
Narcotic agents from the Caldwell County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office arrested three men and seized more than 9 pounds of fentanyl pills (approximately 36,000 pills) hidden under the hood of a 2018 Mercedes Benz.
Police in Payson, Arizona discovered 150,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl during two traffic stops on Thursday, February 19th.
The DEA announced that it had seized approximately 50,000 fentanyl pills in Las Vegas, Nevada.
After a six week law enforcement operation dubbed “Winter is Coming,” the Riverside County Sheriff's Department in California seized almost 1,000 pounds of narcotics and over 121,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl.
Law enforcement in Bakersfield, California seized 11,000 fentanyl pills and arrested two men during a drug trafficking investigation.
The Los Angeles, California Police Department arrested a woman in a downtown Los Angeles hotel last month after she allegedly offered to administer counterfeit Botox to undercover officers.
The West Central Ohio Crime Task Force arrested a man in Lima after a search of three residences yielded found suspected cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and meth, plus a fentanyl pill press.
Parents who bought a glow worm for their daughter at a thrift store in El Mirage, Arizona found that it contained a sandwich bag with over 5,000 suspected fentanyl pills.
Caldwell Co- sheriff deputies announce a huge fentanyl bust during a traffic stop where 9-pounds of the drug was found under the hood of the car. Dozens of weapons were also seized along with 5000-rounds of ammo after a home was searched. Three people are now in custody. pic.twitter.com/4XqkaHNESB— Dave Faherty (@FahertyWSOC9) February 15, 2021
5,000 suspected fentanyl pills in a toy parents bought in a secondhand shop. (Source: Phoenix, Arizona police)
PSM is keeping a steady eye on public reports of dangerous counterfeit drugs and other medical products. Check back for next week’s summary.