August 23, 2021: States hit with a wave of fake COVID-19 vaccine cards
Last week’s roundup opened with news that the number of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccine card sellers on Telegram had spiked 257% since March 2021. We also passed along a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) press release from Memphis, Tennessee announcing that officers had intercepted hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards shipped from Shenzhen, China.
That trend continues: CBP in Anchorage, Alaska seized over 3,000 of the fake cards; a Chicago, Illinois pharmacist was charged with selling CDC vaccination cards online and Hawaii’s Attorney General filed charges against a Florida couple who tried to use fake vaccination cards for their two young children during a recent trip.
As part of a multi-pronged Central Valley public health campaign, Fresno, California resident Pamela Smith spoke about her son Jackson, who died in 2016 after taking a counterfeit pill made with fentanyl.
Police in Ellensburg, Washington warned residents about a surge of fatal fentanyl-related poisonings they were attributing to fake opioids pills made with fentanyl.
Washington’s King County, which has been flooded with fentanyl pills, reported that 34 of its residents had died of fentanyl poisoning in July.
Rosaliana Lopez-Rodgriguez of Mount Vernon, Washington received a seven-year prison sentence for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. She sold fake oxycodone pills that were linked to two cases of fentanyl poisoning, one of which was fatal.
In Arizona, the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office reported seizing 1,300 suspected counterfeit fentanyl pills and eight pounds of methamphetamine during a traffic stop.
A mother in Gilbert, Arizona is facing child abuse charges for allegedly giving her son a fentanyl pill in April 2021, after he bought pills for her. The 15-year-old died of fentanyl poisoning several days later.
Officials in Pima County, Arizona announced that fentanyl poisoning has become the leading cause of death among residents under 19.
Vail police and Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies arrested an Arizona man and seized 18 pounds of illegal drugs, including almost nine pounds of suspected fentanyl pills, during a traffic stop in Eagle, Colorado.
The Southern Nevada Health District alerted residents about an increase in fentanyl deaths as a result of the substance being mixed into illicit narcotics and counterfeit pills. The first five months of 2021 saw 92 fentanyl deaths among Clark County residents, a 39 percent increase over the same period in 2020.
In New Mexico, the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force announced that law enforcement had seized 19,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl since the summer of 2019.
In Nebraska, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department alerted residents about an uptick in accidental drug poisonings as a result of narcotics and counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl. Police responded to 50 fentanyl poisonings, four of them fatal, in the last 30 days.
Two North Carolina men were indicted earlier this month for allegedly supplying the pills that killed Christine Englehardt of Richboro, Pennsylvania and a Chicago resident during spring break in March 2021. The Chicago resident, Walter Riley IV, was a hardworking Northern Illinois University student who died on March 20, two days after he collapsed on a street and laid there for more than seven hours.
A LaGrange, Georgia resident has been charged for allegedly selling the counterfeit pills made with fentanyl that killed Ronald Lawrence in April 2021.