February 28, 2022: Study shows that suspending rogue pharmacy websites suppresses them in search results

LegitScript reported the results of a three-month study which found that locking and suspending rogue online pharmacy websites had an “immediate and lasting” negative effect on whether the public would see a website in search engine results. The study is more evidence in favor of the DRUGS Act, which would require domain name sellers to lock and suspend websites when regulators or law enforcement show evidence that they are selling drugs illegally.


On February 15th, the  FDA warned online pharmacies in Cyprus and Russia to stop selling Americans unapproved drugs to treat or prevent COVID-19.

Watch Lock & Suspend Drug Villains for a quick overview, and learn how you can take action to shut down fake pharmacy websites.

On the East Coast

Wilmington, Delaware resident Joseph Thomas will spend more than 15 years in federal prison for selling counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl. A search of Thomas’s home, car detailing business, and storage space in April 2020 yielded a commercial pill press and instructions for making fake prescription pills with fentanyl, several firearms and $86,000 in cash.

The Pender County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office seized 10,000 fentanyl pills, several firearms and $80,000 in cash at the conclusion of an investigation.

A Cheltenham, Pennsylvania resident is facing charges for allegedly supplying the fentanyl pills disguised as oxycodone that killed Nathan Lauch in February 2021. He is the second person to be charged in the case.

A man in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania was charged for allegedly distributing counterfeit fentanyl pills. He had been under investigation since the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Narcotics Enforcement Team learned that he received a shipment of a pill press and a binding agent for pressing pills in May 2020.

In the Midwest

Police in Fort Wayne, Indiana arrested an alleged drug dealer and seized more than 1,000 fake Percocet pills in a multi drug bust last week.

Pratt County, Kansas’s prosecutor warned residents that she had been seeing counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl in the area.

Police in Springfield, Missouri warned residents about counterfeit prescription pills after seizing  a large quantity of pills that they suspect contain fentanyl.

Undergraduate students at The Ohio State University have developed The Soar App, which gives drug users, health providers and others in Ohio a way of alerting the community to deadly batches of street drugs—including counterfeit prescription pills—without involving law enforcement.

In the Mountain West

Police in Glendale, Arizona found 3,000 fentanyl pills in a car while they were investigating the fatal shooting of a seven-year-old child.

Customs and Border at Arizona’s Port of Nogales made two seizures that contained almost 40,000 fentanyl pills last week.

Ernesto Ibarra Jr. of Fort Collins, Colorado, will serve more than 14 years in federal prison for distributing fentanyl pills. He used Facebook to sell a man the counterfeit pills that killed him in September 2017.

A woman in Colorado Springs is facing felony charges for allegedly dealing drugs to minors, including fentanyl pills that killed a 16-year-old. The Colorado Springs School District reports that this is just one of several student drug deaths this year.

Monument, Colorado resident Matt Riviere and Colorado Springs resident Leeann Blaskowsky spoke to the Colorado Springs Gazette about the loss of their sons to fentanyl pill poisoning. Andrew and Stephen Riviere died after taking what they thought was oxycodone in July 2021. Andrew Blaskowsky took half a Xanax to sleep in 2020, not knowing that it was a counterfeit made with a deadly dose of fentanyl.

The Denver Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported that it has seized 800,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in 2022—up from 360,000 in all of 2020.

Idaho State Police seized 350 fentanyl pills and one-and-a-half pounds of methamphetamine during a traffic stop on Interstate-90 near the Fourth of July Pass.

Authorities in Park City, Utah issued this warning about counterfeit pills on February 18th.

Kent Fox of Great Falls, Montana received a 14-year federal prison sentence for arranging the sale of meth and two fentanyl pills that killed  another Great Falls resident in August  2020.

The sheriff of Lewis and Clark County in Montana reported that police had found counterfeit oxycodone pills on or near three residents who died of fentanyl poisoning between January 28th and February 15th.

A couple in Las Vegas, Nevada who allegedly sold the fake pills made with fentanyl that killed Avianna Cavanaugh in March 2021 are facing charges of second degree murder and conspiracy to violate the Uniformed Controlled Substance Act.

A federal grand jury in Utah charged 17 people for allegedly ordering fentanyl, methamphetamine and marijuana from individuals in Mexico, selling the drugs in the Washington County area and returning the drug proceeds to Mexico. Law enforcement seized thousands of fentanyl pills during the investigation.

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper arrested three men after finding more than eight pounds of fentanyl pills inside their vehicle during a traffic stop near Cedar City.

The Park City, Utah Police Department and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office warned residents about the threat of fentanyl in counterfeit pills and illicit drugs.

In the Pacific West

Police in Roseville, California arrested a man after seizing meth, suspected fentanyl, binding agents, a pill press, multiple pill press dies, and what they suspect are fake Adderall and Xanax from his home and vehicle.

With the help of a K9 officer, the California Highway Patrol seized 15 pounds of counterfeit oxycodone pills believed to contain fentanyl during a traffic stop in Merced.

Siskiyou County, California’s Domestic Highway Enforcement team seized almost 10 pounds of fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl during a traffic stop on Interstate-5.

Sheriff’s deputies in Kern County, California arrested a 20-year-old after a search of an East Bakersfield property turned up 3,000 fentanyl pills, various weapons, and more than $23,000 in cash.

Police in Galt, California seized a pound of fentanyl pills left in a local hotel.

Northern California mothers Denise Gentile and Lita Rose spoke out about the dangers of counterfeit fentanyl pills. Their daughters, 17-year-old Jade English and 39-year-old Jamila Ward, died after taking fake Percocet in 2021.  A little more than a year after his death, Zach Didier's parents, too, are still working to get the news out about counterfeit pills made with fentanyl.

A federal grand jury indicted a Washington state resident who allegedly sold illicit drugs, including fentanyl pills in Hawaii. The investigation yielded over 8,000 fentanyl pills and seven and one half pounds of other drugs.

Our California state sheet offers a comprehensive view of counterfeit medicine activity in the state. Interested in other states? Find them here.

International News

The United Kingdom's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency reported that 15,500 counterfeit medicine packs have been found in the UK’s medicines supply chain since the country left the European Union in January 2020.

Authorities in Ireland reported that the 1.6 million doses of illegal medicine they had seized in 2021 included over 28,000 units of ivermectin, a medicine that has been falsely promoted as a COVID-19 cure. The highest volume of drugs seized were sedatives, steroids, painkillers, and ED drugs.