June 7, 2021: Families across the country rally over fentanyl deaths

Parents in Santa Monica, California and in 29 other cities across the country held rallies this week to raise awareness about the threat of fentanyl, and to demand that Snapchat and other social media companies stop drug dealers—particularly those who sell counterfeit pills—from targeting kids on their platforms.

Warnings and Deaths

Families in Santa Clara, California and Edmond, Oklahoma spoke about loved ones they had lost to counterfeit fentanyl pills. 

News coverage reported that the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics seized almost 96,000 counterfeit pills between January 2020 and May 2021. The agency has investigated 20 overdose deaths related to the fake pills.

In Kansas City, Kansas, six juveniles under the age of 18 have died from fake pills made with fentanyl since November 2020. 

Authorities in California, New Mexico, NebraskaNorth Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Washington warned about spikes in fentanyl poisonings and the availability of counterfeit pills.

Bereaved family members rallied at Snapchat’s Santa Monica headquarters, demanding the company stop sales of fentanyl on its platform. (Source: Facebook)


Julian Rivera-Villa and Ricardo Perez-Guillen of Gloucester City, New Jersey received sentences of ten and seven years, respectively, for narcotics trafficking that included counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl in Delaware and New Jersey.

A Leominster, Massachusetts resident was arraigned this week on 14 drug charges. Police found 224 grams of methamphetamine pills disguised as Adderall and a small amount of counterfeit Xanax, among other drugs, when they searched his house in April.

Federal authorities detained two Massachusetts residents who were found in possession of  more than three kilograms of fentanyl pills during an investigation in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

A Greenwood, South Carolina father was charged in the fentanyl poisoning death of his 18-month-old daughter after detectives found blue pills made with fentanyl in his home.

The Berkeley County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Office arrested a 25-year-old man who allegedly distributed fentanyl pills and other drugs.

COVID-19 Fraud

A federal grand jury in Kentucky indicted a Corbin, Kentucky woman for COVID relief fraud after she allegedly created fake businesses to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

Police in Indore, India reported that a counterfeit remdesivir trafficking ring broken up by Gujarat Police in April had planned to sell 80,000 counterfeit units of the injection.

As its COVID-19 vaccine rolls out in Australia, Pfizer warned Australians that any vaccines sold online are counterfeit. The real vaccine is only available through government authorized vaccination centers.

Fake remdesivir has become popular enough in India that this blog published a guide to detecting it by looking at the package.

PSM is keeping a steady eye on public reports of dangerous counterfeit drugs and other medical products. Check back for next week’s summary.