January 4, 2022: Fentanyl deaths rise; 13% in western states are from fake pills

A recent analysis for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that fentanyl is the leading cause of death for adults ages 18-45 in the United States. Across all ages 64% of drug deaths between May 2020 and April 2021 were the result of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, sometimes combined with stimulants. In western states, more than 13% of fentanyl deaths involved counterfeit pills. Read the entire report here.

More national news

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Marco Rubio introduced S. 3399, the Domain Reform for Unlawful Drug Sellers (DRUGS) Act, which would establish a process to lock and suspend websites, including illegal online pharmacies, that sell drugs illegally.

The Biden Administration issued an executive order on December 15th that empowers federal agencies to more effectively target foreign drug traffickers like those supplying dangerous counterfeit pills. The same day it was signed, the Treasury Department blocked the U.S. assets of chemical suppliers in China and criminal drug organizations in Mexico and Brazil.

During an appearance on "Face the Nation," DEA administrator Anne Milgram reported that the DEA seized 20 million fake pills made with fentanyl in 2021.

In the South

Sheriff’s deputies in Caldwell County, North Carolina charged a Lenoir man with drug trafficking after seizing 3,500 fake pills made with fentanyl during a search of his home.

In Chester County, South Carolina, authorities charged three people with selling pills made with fentanyl. In nearby Lancaster County, the coroner warned that she had seen an uptick in deaths from fake benzodiazepines disguised as Xanax and Valium.

In Texas:

Authorities in El Dorado, Arkansas warned about a significant increase in fentanyl poisonings, including several resulting from fake prescription medication.

Watch Lock & Suspend Drug Villains for a quick overview of the Drugs Act.

In the Northeast

Vimoon Sortsoy of Lowell, Massachusetts pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy after selling 400 grams of counterfeit Adderall made with methamphetamine to a cooperating witness.

A U.S. District Court prohibited New Jersey-based Natural Solutions Foundation from selling “nano silver” products that they claimed would prevent, treat or cure COVID-19.

In the Midwest

The DEA’s Chicago Division announced that it arrested 40 people in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin during a three-and-a-half-month drug investigation that also resulted in the seizure of 68,250 counterfeit pills that contained fentanyl.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported that two University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee freshmen—Cade Reddington and Logan Rachwal—died of fentanyl poisoning in 2021 after taking pills that they thought were Percocet. Like so many parents across the country, their mothers are working to raise awareness about the pills.

In Michigan, ​​the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Police Department reported multiple fentanyl poisonings as a result of counterfeit Percocet and warned that residents should assume that any pill that did not come from a pharmacy contained fentanyl.

Kirtland, Ohio residents Ernest Corrigan and Andrew Householder were sentenced to 11 and 6-and-three-quarter years, respectively, for manufacturing counterfeit Adderall pills that contained methamphetamine.

In Minnesota, Minneapolis resident Fowzi Abdinasir Elmi received a 60-month sentence for possession and distribution of fentanyl pills after being involved in three different incidents that involved the pills between June 2019 and September 2020.

Men in Richfield and Olivia, Minnesota were charged with murder in unrelated cases involving two fentanyl pill deaths in 2021.

In Missouri, Libby and Randy Davis of Shawnee and Rebecca Everitt of Kansas City warned families about the counterfeit Percocet pills that killed their sons.

Police in Riley County, Kansas warned about six fentanyl poisonings from fake prescription pills in the past two weeks.

Facebook promotion of the false "nano-silver" COVID-19 treatment.

In the Mountain West

Police in Scottdale, Arizona and the DEA’s Phoenix Division reported the seizure of 1.7 million fentanyl pills on December 16th.

A man in Boise, Idaho faces drug trafficking charges after Ada County Sheriff's deputies found 70 fentanyl pills in his car and another 1,000 among other drugs in his home.

Meanwhile, Idaho’s state police captain sounded the alarm about the high number of fentanyl poisoning deaths caused by counterfeit pills in the state.

In Colorado:

Drugs seized by police in Scottdale, Arizona and the DEA’s Phoenix Division, December 2021.

In the Pacific West

In Washington:


In California:

International News

Canadian authorities charged six residents of Richmond, British Columbia with operating three drug labs. Law enforcement seized three pill presses and 108 kilograms of illicit drugs during the investigation.

Mexico’s Federal Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) warned about fake versions of the cancer drugs Herceptin and Avastin and counterfeit N95 masks circulating in the country.

The World Health Organization warned that falsified Soliris, a medicine that treats blood diseases, had been found in Argentina, Estonia, India, and Uruguay and that falsified Combiart, a malaria drug, was circulating in Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, and Mali.

Police in West Lothian, Scotland seized pill presses and drug paraphernalia used to manufacture millions of illicit etizolam pills.

Authorities in West Yorkshire, England warned that fake anti-epileptic medication and sleeping pills may have caused two deaths and two hospitalizations.

The National Police in Madrid, Spain seized 300,000 COVID-19 antigen tests that had not been reviewed to be certain that they met safety standards.

Journalist Priyanka Pulla wrote that tainted remesdivir circulated in five Indian states during the country's May 2021 COVID-19 surge, further sickening patients.

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration warned about substandard and counterfeit ivermectin imports.

Mexico’s COFEPRIS warned about fake Avastin and 12 other counterfeits over the course of 2021. Watch learn more.