October 4, 2021: 1.8 m fake pills seized in just 2 months; deaths continue
Last week the DEA warned that fentanyl and other illicit drugs in black market pills were killing Americans across the country. On Thursday, the agency shared that it had worked with law enforcement agencies across the country to seize 1.8 million fake fentanyl pills and arrest 810 alleged drug traffickers over the last eight weeks.
NBC News told the stories of eight counterfeit pill victims between the ages of 13 and 23 who lived in California, Minnesota and Washington state: Alexander Neville, Daniel Puerta-Johnson, Alexandra Capelouto, Devin Norring, Ryan McPherson, Kierston Torres-Young, Luca Manuel, and Dylan Kai Sarantos.
Journalists also wrote about victims Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas. Links to their stories are included below.
Rose Rodriguez-Rabin, a former lecturer at the University of Texas at San Antonio received a five-year sentence for distributing 1,000 counterfeit Adderall pills made with methamphetamine.
Houston, Texas resident Jorge Sayon, Jr pleaded guilty to drug charges in federal court. In June 2018, Department of Public Safety Troopers found Sayon in possession of approximately large quantities of cocaine and fentanyl, 11.5 kilograms of which were in pill form.
Patricia Saldivar of Arlington,Texas paid for a billboard with a picture of her 22-year-old daughter to warn her community about deadly fake pills. Cassandra Saldivar died the morning of June 1, 2021 after taking a single Percocet made with fentanyl.
In Alabama, Kelly Colley, who lost her 24-year-old son Dalton to a counterfeit Xanax made with fentanyl and cocaine in June, urges Americans to have open and honest conversations about the dangers of fake pills.
The Chester County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office arrested a man after finding 1,000 pressed pills containing fentanyl in his home.
SWAT teams in Rock Hill and York County, South Carolina arrested eight people and seized a variety of illicit drugs, including more than 5,000 fentanyl pills.
In Dickson, Tennessee, Lucas Kimbro's family warned about counterfeit pills. 25-year-old Kimbro was fatally poisoned by a counterfeit pill three weeks ago and they say seven more people have died since then.
Angela James of Murfreesboro, Tennessee shared the story of her son, Tre, who died of fentanyl poisoning in August 2019 after taking counterfeit pain pills.
Police in Barbourville, Kentucky found a "large quantity" of suspected counterfeit pills disguised as common medications, including oxycodone and alprazolam in a residence last weekend.
In northeast Louisiana, Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office warned residents that counterfeit pills made with fentanyl were prevalent in the area.
A federal judge in Pennsylvania sentenced Devan Abrams, Azad Khizgilov and Roman Shaulov to prison for a cumulative 66 months for mail, wire and bank fraud. Between 2013 and 2017, the men used 70 front companies to conceal payments for the illegal sale of prescription drugs from China, Russia and India to U.S. patients. Two additional conspirators were sentenced in 2019.
Binh Thanh Le of Brockton, Massachusetts pleaded guilty to manufacturing and distributing MDMA, ketamine and alprazolam via an “EastSideHigh” vendor site on a dark net marketplace.
Nicole Benton of Saugus, Massachusetts pleaded guilty for her role as a “runner” in a drug trafficking ring allegedly led by Vincent "Fatz" Caruso, which sold counterfeit Percocet pills made of fentanyl.
An Attleboro, Massachusetts resident was arrested after police raided his home and found methamphetamine, cocaine, and three kilograms of suspected counterfeit prescription pills.
NBC 10 News in Rhode Island reported that illegal, fake COVID-19 vaccination cards are still readily available online.
In Connecticut, the medical examining board suspended the license of retired physician Sue Mcintosh, MD. The Durham resident provided fraudulent vaccine exemption forms to anyone who sent her a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Law enforcement in Orange, Connecticut seized more than 5,000 fentanyl pills disguised as Xanax from a driver with Pennsylvania plates.
The DEA gave updates about fake pill seizures in the media this week:
- The Chicago field division reported that it seized 77,000 counterfeit fentanyl pills in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana between August 3 and September 30. About 4,000 of them were confiscated in the Chicago area.
- The DEA in Nebraska reported that it has seized more than 32,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in 2021--an 800% increase over 2020.
- Nearby Iowa has also seen a huge increase; the DEA has seized about 15,000 counterfeit pills in 2021 so far, an increase from about 4,000 pills in 2020.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the International Mail Facility at Chicago O’Hare announced that they had seized counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards
Two Michigan residents—one a registered nurse for the Veterans Administration—are being prosecuted in separate cases for allegedly selling counterfeit COVID vaccine cards. The nurse allegedly stole authentic cards from her workplace and resold them with lot numbers to buyers in the Detroit-area via Facebook Messenger.
A federal grand jury in Medford, Oregon indicted ten people for their alleged roles in a Klamath Falls drug trafficking ring that sold "large quantities" of methamphetamine and fentanyl in the form of counterfeit oxycodone pills.
Police in Salem, Oregon who found methamphetamine and several thousand fake oxycodone pills in a drug bust reported that the pills had been linked to deaths in the community.
In Burien, Washington, police intercepted more than 41,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl on their way to Burien and southwest King County.
A U.S. Border Patrol K-9 detection team found methamphetamine, fentanyl powder and fentanyl pills concealed in car batteries at the Highway 86 immigration checkpoint in Salton Sea, California
Pinal County, Arizona resident Misty Terrigino shared the story of her 17-year-old daughter, Kaylie, who died of fentanyl poisoning after ingesting a pill bought via Snapchat. Pinal County reports that it has seized 1.1 million fake fentanyl pills in 2021.
U.S. Border Patrol agents at the I-19 immigration checkpoint in Tucson, Arizona seized more than 17 pounds of fentanyl pills concealed in a cooler full of fish,
An article about counterfeit pill activity in Utah reported that authorities in Washington County are investigating the August death of a man who was found with “M30” pills. Alleged pill distributors are also being prosecuted in Kane and Grand Counties and along the Wasatch Front.
Idaho State Police reported that they have seized nearly 28,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in 2021.
The Food and Drug Administration in the Philippines warned residents about online schemes that offer to sell them specific brands of COVID-19 vaccines with delivery fees and insurance fees but never deliver them.
Officers in Paisley, Scotland seized Etizolam and a pill press during a raid.
Authorities in Mumbai, India arrested a 30-year-old woman running a pharmaceutical company for allegedly selling counterfeit cancer medicines.