April 18, 2022: Fentanyl pills double teen drug deaths since 2019

Last week, the FDA and DEA warned two website operators to stop illegally selling Adderall. A new study found that drug fatalities among U.S. teens has doubled since 2019. Mississippi passed a law to criminalize the unauthorized possession or sale of pill presses. Twenty more stories covered prosecutions, seizures and fatalities as a result of counterfeit pills in 14 states.

National News

Researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that even though drug use among 14- to 18-year-olds is falling, fatalities have doubled since 2019 as a result of counterfeit pills made with synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

In this environment naloxone can save many lives. The drug, which temporarily reverses the effects of opioids, is available without an individual prescription at U.S. pharmacies in every state.

It's often covered by health insurance, and sometimes community programs distribute it for free.

Consult NEXT Distro to learn about access to naloxone in your state.

Watch our  April 27 video about JAMA's research letter.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued warning letters to the operators of two websites that were illegally selling stimulants, including amphetamine drug products marketed as Adderall, without a prescription. These products are a threat both because of the potential for abuse and because prescription drugs from unsafe online pharmacies may be counterfeit, contaminated, expired or otherwise harmful.

East Coast

Bereaved mother Lisa Deane, who lost her son to fentanyl poisoning in 2018, has made a short film about the dangers of counterfeit pills to screen in Connecticut schools.

In Massachusetts, Jeremiah McLenithan of Greenfield was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in state prison after pleading guilty to fentanyl and cocaine trafficking and firearms charges. He mailed fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl to undercover federal agents in Kansas City, Kansas in 2019.

Mark Garcia, a Westford, Massachusetts pharmacy tech, was sentenced to six to eight years in state prison for selling drugs, including methamphetamine that was pressed to resemble Adderall.

In the South

Three people in Searcy, Arkansas were arrested in connection to several fentanyl deaths after investigators found more than 100 counterfeit oxycodone and Xanax pills made with fentanyl in  one of their residences.

A couple in Ocala, Florida was arrested after agents found nearly two pounds of fentanyl, a pill press machine and other drug paraphernalia from their home.

A 23-year-old Piney Branch, Maryland man was charged with allegedly selling the counterfeit Percocet pills made with fentanyl that killed a 16-year-old in Bethesda in January 2022.

The governor of Mississippi signed House Bill 679, which criminalizes the unauthorized possession and transfer of a pill press or similar pharmaceutical producing equipment.

A Lawton, Oklahoma man faces a second-degree murder charge for allegedly providing Bryce Davis the fentanyl pills that killed him in December 2021.

After losing her 26-year-old daughter Cheyenne to a fake hydrocodone pill made with fentanyl a year ago, Misty Little of Greenville, Texas has launched a nonprofit, Fiercely Fighting Fentanyl Poisonings, to prevent other deaths.  

There has been a recent uptick in news about cases involving pill presses; 15 stories since the beginning of March. Learn more about them in our March 2019 collaboration

In the Mountain West

Detectives with the Border Interdiction Unit found about 371,000 fentanyl pills during a traffic stop in Tucson, Arizona.

In Colorado, Adam County Sheriff’s Office announced the seizure of nearly 60,000 counterfeit M30 pills made with fentanyl, five pounds of methamphetamine and several pounds of cocaine and heroin on April 4th.

In Greeley, a woman who was allegedly found with 16 grams of suspected fentanyl pills and other drugs was arrested in connection with her husband's suspected fentanyl poisoning death.

Another Greeley resident spoke out about her husband’s death to warn fellow Coloradans about the dangers of counterfeit pills: Ignacio Landa Ramirez died of fentanyl poisoning in August 2021 after taking what he thought was an oxycodone for debilitating back pain.

Great Falls, Montana police found almost 160 fentanyl pills, as well as methamphetamine and fentanyl powder in a man's pickup truck on April 6th.

A 27-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada man was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly providing the fentanyl pills that led to the death of Jacob Mathis in April 2021.

The U.S. District Court for Wyoming has charged a Gillette man with drug possession after police allegedly found 1,000 fentanyl pills in his car during a traffic stop in March.

Arizona and Colorado have been deluged with counterfeit pills since 2017.  See the situation in your state.

In the Pacific West

A family in Santa Cruz, California shared that their daughter, 16-year-old Lace Price, had died after taking pills made with fentanyl in November 2021.

Gustavo Jaciel Solis of Sylmar, California pleaded guilty in federal court to participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy and distributing fentanyl resulting in death. Solis, who advertised drug sales on his Snapchat account, sold ten counterfeit oxycodone pills to a U.S. Marine who died of fentanyl poisoning at Camp Pendleton in May 2020.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington announced the launch of Operation Engage Spokane, a project with the DEA focused on stopping fentanyl distribution. The announcement also listed 15 fentanyl distribution cases in progress, a third of which involved counterfeit pills.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested two people and seized methamphetamine and about 1,000 pills believed to be fentanyl during a traffic stop in Airway Heights, Washington.

In Tacoma, Jasmine Robinson shared the story of her 21-year-old son Jaylen’s fentanyl poisoning death in July 2020: “His friend said, ‘Let’s do a Percocet, and I know someone who we can get it from. They got it on Snapchat; Jaylen paid, I think, 20 dollars, and he took one pill and he died.