September 7, 2021: Feds Issue $5mm Award For Alleged Fentanyl Kingpin

The U.S. Department of State’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program issued a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Jian Zhang, the Chinese citizen the Department of Justice indicted in 2017 for allegedly operating four known fentanyl labs in China and selling fentanyl to U.S. residents online.

other national news

Despite the efforts of Amazon and U.S. regulators, the company’s platform still returns results for fake COVID-19 treatments and misinformation when users search the site.

Reward poster for Jian Zhang. [Image source: DEA]


A Dominican national and former Bronx, New York resident, Jose Paulino, received a 70-month prison sentence for narcotics trafficking and immigration offenses. Paulino sold large quantities of cocaine and counterfeit oxycodone pills—most of which were made of fentanyl—to a dealer in New Haven, Connecticut.

A man in Carlisle, Pennsylvania was arrested for allegedly selling the counterfeit Percocet that killed a Shippensburg University student last December.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office charged a New Jersey anti-vaccine activist and an employee at a New York clinic for selling approximately 250 fake COVID vaccine cards on Instagram and adding the buyers—who included people who worked in hospitals and nursing homes—to New York’s immunization database for a combined total of $450 each.


Counterfeit roxicodone pills made with fentanyl found in a Baby Yoda toy. [Image source: Rutherford County Sheriff's Office]

The U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida delayed the Grenon family’s trial until March 2022 because patriarch Mark Grenon and his son, Joseph, are fighting extradition from Colombia. The Grenos under indictment for selling industrial bleach as a miracle cure for a variety of illnesses, including COVID-19.

Stepfen Gerard Gaither of Randallstown, Maryland pleaded guilty to federal charges for a murder-for-hire conspiracy, extortion, and intent to distribute more than 700 fake Oxycontin pills that contained fentanyl and heroin.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation undercover agents arrested a Buford man after he sold them 1,000 suspected fentanyl/heroin pills during a drug investigation.

The sheriff’s department in Rutherford County, Tennessee reported that a 34-year-old Michigan man had been arrested for trying to sell counterfeit roxicodone pills made with fentanyl concealed in a Baby Yoda toy.

Having found her in Florida, law enforcement in Caldwell County, North Carolina extradited a woman who allegedly gave Ashley Elizabeth O'Sullivan a counterfeit fentanyl pill that killed her on March 19, 2021.

Public health officials in Frederick County, Maryland warned that counterfeit prescription opioid pills made with fentanyl or xylazine might be responsible for an uptick of poisonings in the area.

In Virginia, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s office reported that two residents had recently died after ingesting suspected counterfeit prescription pills.

While discussing a different investigation, Izard County, Arkansas’s Chief Deputy noted that counterfeit pills made with fentanyl had been found in the area.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in El Paso, Texas seized a box of prescription animal supplements and horse medications from a citizen entering the U.S. from Mexico at the Paso Del Norte crossing. The veterinary medications were narcotic steroids prohibited from entry.

Police in Florence, South Carolina found heroin, oxycodone and a pill press in the possession of a man who hit an officer with his vehicle while trying to flee arrest.


19-year-old Minneapolis resident Fowzi Abdinasir Elmi pleaded guilty to drug charges after law enforcement in Oklahoma and Minnesota seized approximately 2500 pills from him during three arrests between June 2019 and September 2020.

Minnesota’s CEE-VI Drug and Gang Task Force reported that it found counterfeit oxycodone pills that could contain lethal doses of fentanyl in Yellow Medicine, Kandiyohi, Swift, Meeker, and Chippewa counties

A 21-year-old in Antioch, Illinois faces drug-induced homicide charges for providing the counterfeit Percocet pills that killed Vincent Isola of Cary on March 4, 2021.

A Evansville, Indiana man was charged with selling the counterfeit pill made with fentanyl that killed someone in April 2021.

Mountain West

In Arizona, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office warned that deadly counterfeit prescription pills made of fentanyl were readily available on social media platforms like Snapchat.

Police in Williams County, North Dakota charged two men for possession with intent to deliver fentanyl pills after meeting them in Willison to purchase the drugs.

A mother in Santa Fe, New Mexico shared that counterfeit fentanyl pills nearly killed 15-year-old son in mid-August.

Pacific West

Kyle Anthony Shephard of Escondido, California received a 14-year federal prison sentence for supplying the fentanyl pills that killed a U.S. Marine corporal at Camp Pendleton in January 2017. At the sentencing hearing, a friend of the Marine’s mother read her statement, which said, in part, “I miss (my son) with every cell and fiber of my being. The pain is unimaginable and excruciating.”

The Food and Drug Administration warned a Newhall, California chiropractor to stop promoting unapproved and misbranded drugs as ways to “mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 in people” on his website. 

Officials in Santa Clara County, Callifornia warned that fentanyl was killing the county’s homeless residents, who might not know the contents of the counterfeit pills then were taking. Drug fatalities connected to fentanyl in Santa Clara County almost tripled between 2019 and 2020.

Oahu, Hawaii police arrested an Illinois woman who allegedly used a fake vaccination card to bypass the state's mandatory quarantine. 

Read the initial criminal complaint against Kyle Shephard.


In Canada, the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) announced that they had shut down a large fentanyl lab, seizing 31 kilograms of fentanyl and precursors and 7,600 kilograms of chemicals used in fentanyl production.

Police in Dhaka, Bangladesh closed a factory and arrested seven men for their alleged involvement in distributing counterfeit prescription medicine to treat asthma, gastroesophageal reflux and inflammation.