February 22, 2022: This year's review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy is out
The Office of the United States Trade Representative released this year’s Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy, which identifies markets that “engage in, facilitate, turn a blind eye to, or benefit from substantial piracy or counterfeiting.”
An advocacy campaign by the Alexander Neville Foundation, Drug Induced Homicide, Victims of Illicit Drugs, and others led the authors of this year’s report to acknowledge the volume of prescription pills made with fentanyl and other dangerous substances sold on social media platforms. They also identified the ecommerce site IndiaMART and the Central Market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as specific sources for fake medicine.
In the South
A federal jury in Fort Worth found Eric Kay, former communications director for the Los Angeles Angels, guilty of providing pitcher Tyler Skaggs the fake oxycodone pills that killed him in 2019.
Former Rice University football player and Houston native Stuart Mouchantaf received a 12-year prison sentence for giving fellow Rice student Blain Padgett the counterfeit painkiller made of carfentanil that killed him in March 2018.
Houston resident Arael Doolittle will spend nine years in prison serving two consecutive sentences for trying to sell 50 million non-existent N95 face masks to the Australian government and defrauding investors of his non-existent petroleum trading company of almost $2 million.
Robert Lance Schuffert of Auburn, Alabama, pleaded guilty to smuggling selective androgen receptor modulators such as Ostarine from China and selling them as workout supplements to brick-and-mortar retailers throughout the United States. The FDA warned products like these were linked to liver toxicity and increased risk of heart attack and stroke in 2017.
Sheriff’s deputies in Oconee County, South Carolina seized a methamphetamine lab with a pill press at a house near Westminster after undercover agents purchased methamphetamine and oxycodone there.
Oklahoma’s Attorney General filed murder charges against a man who allegedly sold Cole Stamps the counterfeit oxycodone that killed him in September 2021.
Prosecutors in Mayes County, Oklahoma charged a woman with murder for allegedly providing the pills that killed Aaron Jenks, of Pryor in June 2021.
Broward County, Florida resident Frank Hernandez also spoke out to warn families. His daughter, Melissa, died after accidentally taking fentanyl disguised as a Xanax pill in September 2021.
In the northeast
Ruben Mejia of Lawrence, Massachusetts received a 45-month sentence for trafficking fentanyl pills. Mejia delivered or tried to deliver approximately 6,000 pills to an undercover agent over the course of 2020.
Scott Rosario of Steelton, Pennsylvania was sentenced to at least four years in state prison for selling Lauretana Lubrano the fake Percocet pills that killed her on New Year’s Eve 2021.
Leandro Rodriguez of Allentown, Pennsylvanian, was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit approximately $669,000 for his role in a six-year conspiracy to import and distribute substances from China that contained sibutramine but were falsely labeled as “all natural” dietary supplements.
Richard Delsanto of West Warwick, Rhode Island pleaded guilty in federal court to arranging to sell thousands of fentanyl pills to undercover officers.
Two Rhode Islanders are facing federal charges for distributing large quantities of controlled substances, including fentanyl pills, in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. February 2022 searches of two houses where one of the defendants resides yielded two pill presses, tens of thousands of counterfeit oxycodone pills suspected to contain fentanyl, marijuana plants and $80,000.
A U.S. Marine Corps reservist from Queens, New York who was arrested on charges related to participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot has also been charged with conspiring to sell fake Covid-19 vaccination cards to fellow reservists.
Sibutramine (sold under the brand name Meridia) was removed from U.S. shelves in 2010 when the FDA found that the drug increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes without being an effective tool for weight loss.
In the Midwest
Milwaukee, Wisconsin resident Isaac Solis has launched “One Pill Kills,” a social media campaign to warn families about the threat of fentanyl pills. Solis’s 25-year-old son died in 2019 after taking a counterfeit Percocet.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Cincinnati, Ohio announced that they had seized 11 shipments of unapproved cosmetic treatments such as Botox, Juvederm, Restylane, and other fillers in the first month of 2022. The injections were illegally imported from China, South Korea, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic and were destined for Florida, Texas, and New Mexico.
In the Mountain West
Las Vegas, Nevada resident Marcas Crowley, 32, pleaded guilty to providing pills made of fentanyl that killed 13-year-old Daniella Young of Summerlin. Crowley offered Daniella the pills and exchanged explicit photos with her on Snapchat.
A Denver, Colorado man was charged with multiple felonies for his alleged role in a large-scale drug operation. A search of a home associated with the operation yielded illicit drugs, including thousands of suspected fentanyl pills, guns and gun parts, and $7,000 in cash.
Grand Junction, Colorado-based Voices for Awareness is partnering with Mesa County authorities and the Western Colorado Drug Task Force in a new initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
A man in Caspar, Wyoming is facing felony conspiracy to deliver fentanyl charges. Investigators who linked him to a non-fatal fentanyl pill poisoning last month found 200 pills in his residence.
In the Pacific West
Beverly Hills resident Andrew Tablack received a 30-year federal prison sentence for trafficking counterfeit pills made with fentanyl analogues. Between March 2017 and December 2017 Tablack ran a pill making operation that sold millions of prescription pills made with fentanyl analogues on the dark web under the vendor name XanaxKing2.
Jahvaris Lamoun Springfield, of San Diego will spend 25 years in federal prison for distribution of fentanyl resulting in death. Springfield sold the pills that killed 26-year-old Brendan James Gallagher in February 2019.
The Placer County District Attorney filed murder charges against a 20-year-old for providing fentanyl that killed an unnamed Roseville resident. Detectives seized more than $100,000 in cash, an unregistered handgun and suspected fentanyl-laced pills over the course of the investigation.
A 20-year-old Redding man has been charged with murder for providing the fentanyl pill that killed a 13-year-old in August 2020.
The Monterey County Sheriff's Office arrested a man they found with illegally possessed weapons and several thousand counterfeit pills suspected to contain fentanyl.
Deputies in Riverside County, the Coachella Community Action Team, and a Sheriff K-9 Deputy found 300 fentanyl pills, guns, 12 grams of methamphetamine, and cash in Bermuda Dunes.
Border Patrol agents and an Imperial County task force searched a storage unit in Calexico and found two hollowed-out vehicle batteries that contained a bag of fentanyl pills and the other with two bricks of cocaine imprinted in the shape of a skull.
In Washington State:
Authorities in King County filed controlled substance homicide charges against a Kirkland man for selling a counterfeit M30 pill that killed an unnamed person on September 12, 2021.
Two men are facing a federal indictment for their alleged involvement in the fentanyl pill death of Zachary Taylor on September 12, 2021.
Police in Spokane announced that they had seized nine kilograms of methamphetamine, thousands of counterfeit bills and at least 40,000 fentanyl pills in a cat litter bucket, when they responded to a drive-by shooting on February 6th.
Mexican regulators issued an alert about three counterfeit lots of Xarelto, a blood thinner that is approved for use in both the U.S. and Mexico. Counterfeit Xarelto was also discovered in the U.K. in 2019.
Anna Yakubovsky-Rositsan, a registered nurse in Toronto, Canada, pleaded guilty to criminal negligence and other charges for injecting silicone and mineral oil into the buttocks and faces of people seeking cosmetic injections. The injections maimed seven clients and killed 23-year-old Chanel Steben in April 2017.
The Food and Drug Administration and police in Uttar Pradesh, India seized fake COVID-19 vaccines, remdesivir, rapid antigen test kits and other medicines at the beginning of February.
The European Anti-Fraud Office and the Polish Police Central Bureau of Investigations arrested 34 people and seized hundreds of thousands of counterfeit erectile dysfunction drugs, anabolic products and growth hormones that had been smuggled from Asia, repackaged and sold online to Europeans.