March 7, 2022: Fake oxycodone contained animal sedative that doesn't respond to Narcan

Last week a 19-year-old in Cinnaminson, New Jersey was charged with selling counterfeit pills that caused the death of high school senior Max Mather in Medford in March 2021. Prosecutors say Mather believed he was buying Oxycontin, but toxicology results showed that he died of fentanyl toxicity and noted the presence of xylazine.

Xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer that has been increasingly prevalent in the illicit drug supply since 2019,  is particularly troubling because its effects can not be reversed with naloxone. It hasn't typically been reported in counterfeit pills.

More news from the Northeast

Images from a video posted on Snapchat by members of Caruso's drug ring. (Source: Criminal Complaint)

Laurie Caruso of Lynn, Massachusetts pleaded guilty to one count of distributing drugs for her son, who ran a drug ring that manufactured and sold thousands of counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl to street gangs on the North Shore. She is the second of four defendants to plead guilty.

Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania bodybuilder Sara Mouton and her husband Thomas will pay $10,000 in fines and serve three years of probation for illegally selling non-approved steroids and performance enhancers to several hundred fitness community clients over a two-year period.

On Thursday, CBP officers in Philadelphia found 10,000 tablets of illegally imported tramadol concealed inside cakes. The drugs were on their way from the United Kingdom to West Virginia.

In the Midwest

23-year-old Cynthia Abarca-Barajas of Omaha, Nebraska received a 34-month sentence for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. Law enforcement found 997 fentanyl pills concealed in a cereal box when they stopped her on the way to a drug transaction in March 2021.

Officials in Phelps County, Nebraska warned that law enforcement had recovered counterfeit pills which tested positive for fentanyl.

A family in Chillicothe, Missouri warned about the counterfeit pills made with fentanyl that killed 23-year-old Levi Terrell, in October 2021.

In the South

A Madisonville, Kentucky resident is facing murder and drug trafficking charges for allegedly providing Percocet pills to a 15-year-old girl who died of fentanyl poisoning in October 2021.

Members of the Cecil County Drug Task Force, along with FBI and DEA agents, arrested a man and confiscated suspected fentanyl-laced pills, suspected fentanyl and cocaine, a pill press and dies to make oxycodone pills from his residence in Elkton, Maryland.

An Oklahoma City woman who is advocating for the use of fentanyl test strips to reduce the rate of drug deaths in Oklahoma spoke about losing friends to counterfeit Adderall made with fentanyl.

A man in Bradley County, Tennessee was caught trying to smuggle 200 fentanyl pills and several grams of methamphetamine into jail while he was being arrested on drug charges.

After losing him to a counterfeit pill made with fentanyl in March 2021, Cameron Stewart’s family continues to educate Austin,Texas-area families and students about the dangers of fake pills. A Change for Cam hosted a panel on March 1, which you can watch here.

Read <a href="">Illegal Pill Presses</a>.

Read 2019's Illegal Pill Presses: Illegal Pill Presses: An Overlooked Threat To American Patients and the 2021 update to learn more about domestic pill making operations like the ones in this week's news.

Richard Perez of Manassas, Virginia received a more-than-12-year prison sentence for selling about 1,000 fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl to an undercover police officer in 2021.

Kibruysday Degefa of Alexandria, Virginia received  a 14-year federal prison sentence for his part in a drug ring that sold eutylone and counterfeit pills made with fentanyl that led to the death of a 20-year-old Kalisia Matthews in December 2020.

In the Mountain West

Candelaria Vallejo-Gallo of Aurora, Colorado received a 23-year federal prison sentence for drug distribution. Law enforcement intercepted a kilogram and a half of fentanyl pills and over five kilograms of other illicit drugs destined for the defendant between March 2019 and February 2020.

A Denver, Colorado mother spoke out about her daughter’s near-death after she was sold a counterfeit, laced pill on Snapchat in March 2021.

Three Colorado Springs residents are facing drug charges for providing counterfeit pills made with fentanyl to a 16-year-old boy and two of his friends. The 16-year-old was found dead in his bedroom on  January 31, 2022. One of the defendants is the boy’s mother.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little asked for $250,000 to launch project “Operation Esto Perpetua,” an initiative to law enforcement, policymakers and families to fight fentanyl and other drugs in the state. Fentanyl is an increasing problem in the state: in February, Idaho State Police in Coeur d’Alene seized 100,000 fentanyl pills during a traffic stop.

Agents with the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force discovered about 6,000 fentanyl pills, four-and-a-half ounces of meth, and an assault rifle in a home in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

In the Pacific West

Two Los Angeles, California residents were charged with running a drug-delivery operation that sold counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl that killed 37-year-old Ray Mascolo in November 2020.

Riverside County, California continues to see a spike in fentanyl and fentanyl-related prosecutions, most recently the arrest of two Ontario residents on suspicion of selling fentanyl pills.

In Oregon, Homeland Security Investigations and the Clackamas County Inter-agency Task Force arrested four alleged drug traffickers and seized about 150,000 counterfeit prescription pills made with fentanyl and 20 pounds of suspected bulk fentanyl.

A 17-year-old Prineville, Oregon resident recounted her experience with fentanyl poisoning after ingesting counterfeit Percocet pills. ​​The Central Oregon Overdose Crisis Response Task Force reports that there is an ”alarming trend of more overdoses in people 17 and under.”

The 150,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl and 20 pounds of suspected bulk fentanyl seized in Clackamas County is the largest single fentanyl seizure in Oregon state history. 

Micaiah Wendell Ray Hill of Eugene, Oregon has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for supplying Emanuel Dreiling, an urban development student at the University of Oregon, counterfeit oxycodone pills that killed him.

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington are using innovative methods to respond to the fentanyl crisis. One team has developed a library of 50 fentanyl variants to improve detection of fentanyl in the field; another is predicting new fentanyl variants before they appear in the drug supply.

International News

In a two-month operation, INTERPOL and AFRIPOL seized more than 12 million illicit health products in 20 African countries, most commonly antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, painkillers, and drugs that treat ED, rheumatism and epilepsy.

Officers from the NDLEA in Nigeria seized shipments of tramadol and oxycodone being trans-shipped via Lagos to the United Kingdom and the United States.