June 1, 2021: CBP in Ohio seizes $1.2 million in Counterfeit Drugs and Medical Devices
Last week Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Cincinnati provided two sterling examples of how hard CBP works to protect U.S. residents from counterfeit and black market medicine:
- On May 21, CBP officers in Cincinnati, Ohio seized a shipment of steroids and prescription medications such as testosterone, sildenafil, tadalafil, and human growth hormone on its way from China to a residence in Texas. The products, which would have been worth $43,117 if they were legal, had been labeled "glass anti-fogging agent."
- Cincinnati CBP also ran a one-week operation at the end of April, and intercepted 318 shipments of counterfeit and unapproved medical products such as Botox, lidocaine, Viagra, clonazepam, clenbuterol, COVID-19 test kits, unapproved liposuction machines.
A Department of Public Safety Canine District trooper in Arizona made two large drug seizures that included 114 pounds of fentanyl pills during traffic stops on I-10 near Marana and Salome.
Police in Sammamish, Washington arrested two people who were squatting in a vacant house and seized cash, weapons, more than 15,000 fentanyl pills, and other drugs.
The Northern Colorado Drug Task Force executed multiple search warrants in Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, seizing over 4,500 fentanyl pills, other illicit drugs, firearms and explosive devices, stolen property, credit card counterfeiting equipment, and narcotics distribution equipment.
In California, the Tulare County Sheriff's Office arrested two people and seized 5,000 fentanyl pills, methamphetamine, cocaine, cash, and guns during a drug bust in Delano.
Patrick Charles Bishop of Birmingham, Alabama received a 30-month prison sentence for making unapproved suppositories in his kitchen and warehouse, and selling them as a cancer treatment.
Arizona resident Jesus Camacho-Luque received a 7- to 20- year prison sentence for trafficking fentanyl pills in Reno, Nevada. Law enforcement found 5,000 fentanyl pills in his vehicle when they busted him in August 2020.
74-year-old Lawrenceville, Georgia resident George Kuiper received a sentence of three years probation for illegally operating an internet pharmacy from his residence that sold prescription drugs and controlled substances which he obtained from foreign sources.
Justin R. Williams of Canton, Mississippi was sentenced to 11 years for his part in a scheme to distribute more than 380 pills containing fentanyl.
In Salem, Massachusetts, Jose Esmerlin Diaz pleaded guilty to his role in a pill press operation. Law enforcement seized pills from Diaz in Woburn and found counterfeit fentanyl pills and a pill press in a Public Storage storage locker.
Octavio Mendoza Jr. of Reno, Nevada pleaded guilty to possessing and selling hundreds of counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl between June and September 2020.
A Lexington, Kentucky man is facing drug trafficking charges after investigators found explosives and a large quantity of narcotics in an office suite. Officers seized more than 10,000 counterfeit Xanax pills as well as methamphetamine and cocaine over the course of the investigation.
Federal grand juries charged three men in Owensboro, Kentucky with fentanyl pill trafficking. One allegedly ran a pill press operation and sold alprazolam, fentanyl and heroin between June 2020 and early March 2021. The other two were allegedly associated with a fentanyl and marijuana trafficking operation that led to fentanyl poisonings and the seizure of counterfeit Xanax and Percocet pills in October 2020.
Warnings and Deaths
The Drug Enforcement Administration released a new fact sheet about counterfeit pills, stating that they “may contain lethal amounts of fentanyl or methamphetamine” and “extremely dangerous because they often appear identical to legitimate prescription pills.”
The Food and Drug Administration warned U.S. residents to be wary of dietary supplements that make unproven claims that they treat infertility because they “could deter patients from seeking effective, FDA-approved drug products.”
The father of former University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan reports that Brennan died after taking a counterfeit pill made with fentanyl. The 37-year-old one time Heisman Trophy finalist died in a hospital in Newport Beach, California on May 11.
Drug deaths across Colorado rose 59% in 2020, and fentanyl played a large role in the increase, including counterfeit pills made with fentanyl.
Police in Texarkana, Texas reported that three residents suffered acute fentanyl poisoning after taking counterfeit pills earlier this year. One, a 25-year old woman, died.
Across the country at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona, CBP officers protected Mexican citizens by stopping a shipment of 30,000 “Virus Shut Out” lanyards, which falsely claim to protect wearers from COVID-19, from crossing into Mexico from our side of the border.
COVIDReliefSociety.org claimed to sell COVID-19 vaccines for same-day delivery anywhere in the world, but the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland alleges that the site mined personal information for future identity fraud instead. This is the tenth such site the office has shut down since the pandemic began.
David Michael Wright, Sr. of Hixson, Tennessee pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering for collecting more than $180,000 from an investor in a fake scheme to buy and resell N95 face masks and hand sanitizers.
Police in Haryana, India shut down a “pharmaceutical unit” that had been manufacturing fake vials of remdesivir.
PSM is keeping a steady eye on public reports of dangerous counterfeit drugs and other medical products. Check back for next week’s summary.