April 15, 2022: Middle man in Mac Miller’s fentanyl pill death gets 11 years

A federal court sentenced a man involved in supplying the fentanyl pills that killed rapper Mac Miller in 2018 to almost 11 years in prison. The Justice Department indicted 21 defendants for COVID-19 fraud. The FDA warned companies to stop selling skin lightening products made with hydroquinone. A COVID-19 testing company settled with the LA City Attorney for fraudulent test results. An additional 27 stories involved prosecutions, seizures and deaths involving counterfeit pressed pills in 17 states.

Unapproved treatments and COVID-19 Frauid

The Justice Department has charged 21 defendants for alleged fraud schemes that exploited the COVID-19 pandemic, including the sale of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards in California and Washington.  

The Food and Drug Administration warned 12 companies to stop selling skin lightening products that contain hydroquinone, a non-FDA approved drug that can cause skin rashes, facial swelling, and discoloration

Sameday Technologies, a Los Angeles-based COVID testing company, will pay $9.6 million in restitution and nearly $13 million to the city and county of Los Angeles for faking approximately 500 tests, reporting negative results when the tests were never processed.

Counterfeit pills across the country

In the Pacific West

Bowman16, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mac Miller performing at the 2011 NYC Governors Ball (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

In Los Angeles, Ryan Michael Reavis received an almost 11-year prison for supplying the deadly counterfeit oxycodone pills another dealer gave to rapper Mac Miller before he died in September 2018. Stephen Andrew Walter, another man in the fake pill supply chain, signed a plea agreeing to a 17-year sentence in October 2021. A third man’s case is still pending.

A Los Angeles mother who lost her son to fentanyl poisoning in 2018 has mounted a series of billboards around her Beverlywood neighborhood to warn about the threat.

Federal authorities in the Central District of California announced seven criminal cases against drug dealers who allegedly sold fentanyl-laced narcotics that caused fatalities in Orange County. Four of these cases involved fentanyl pills, with deaths in Costa Mesa, Lake Forest, and Tustin.

Fountain Valley Police arrested a Huntington Beach resident after a search of his home yielded illegal drugs—including about 11,000 counterfeit prescription pills—and firearms.

Jesus Adrian Pena-Gamez received a five-year-and-three-month prison sentence for possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl. Pena-Gamez and co-defendant Carlos Ivan Campana were caught trying to sell 15,000 counterfeit M30 pills made with fentanyl in the parking lot of a Bakersfield restaurant.

30-year-old Fresno, California resident Jose Jesus Torres Garcia received a six-year federal prison sentence for possession of fentanyl pills and illegal possession of a firearm. Federal officers turned up several hundred fentanyl pills in his home in May 2021 after they learned that he was advertising oxycodone pills on Facebook.

A federal grand jury indicted a Mexican man who allegedly sold  fentanyl pills, eutylone, hydrocodone, and ketamine in Fresno, California.

In Washington, 27-year-old Dylan Vanosdol of Oak Harbor was convicted of controlled substance homicide in the death of Jose Colon Jr.  Vanosdol sold Colon a counterfeit Percocet pill made with fentanyl in June 2020.

A jail inmate in Asotin County, Washington was treated for fentanyl poisoning after she ingested fentanyl pills another woman had smuggled into the facility.

Ad for Torres-Garcia's pills on social media. (Image: Sentencing memo)

In the Midwest

Police in Sterling Heights, Michigan seized fentanyl powder and more than 20,000 fentanyl pills disguised as OxyContin after a BMW driver refused to pull over for a traffic stop.

A man in Burnsville, Minnesota has been charged with providing the suspected fentanyl pills that killed a woman in Bloomington on December 30, 2021.

In the South

Task force agents arrested a man after they found 2,800 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in his Florence, Alabama home.

Federal authorities in Florida unsealed the indictment of three men who allegedly manufactured and distributed fentanyl-laced pills throughout the Middle District of Florida from at least May 2020 through April 2022.

Pills being removed from a car during a traffic stop in Sterling Heights, Michigan, April 2022. (Image: Sterling Heights Police Department)

Georgia residents Albert Bynoe, Cynthia Dessaure-Outlaw, and Nicholas Butler, and Darnee Cooper of South Carolina pleaded guilty to making and selling illicit drugs. Agents seized methamphetamine, a pill press machine, pill molds in the shape of a joker and seashells from Bynoe’s residence in Decatur and a storage unit in Tucker in 2021.

A federal grand jury in Shreveport, Louisiana indicted three people with trafficking fentanyl between January and October 2021. They allegedly sold the fake prescription pills made with fentanyl that killed a man found at the site of a car crash in May 2021.

An 18-year-old and her 20-year-old boyfriend were arrested in Union County, North Carolina for allegedly selling fentanyl pills to juveniles.

19-year-old Kobe Malik Woods of Marion, Virginia received a three-and-one-half-year sentence for ordering more than 800 fentanyl pills from a California supplier selling on Snapchat.

In the Mountain West

36-year-old Jason Jordan of Mesa, Arizona received an eight-year prison sentence for fentanyl distribution. United States Postal Inspectors intercepted 1,000 fentanyl pills that Jordan mailed to an apartment in Madison, Wisconsin in January 2021.

Colorado State Patrol arrested an Arizona man after they found almost 28 pounds of illicit drugs, six-and-one-half of which were fentanyl pills, in his car.

In Idaho, American Falls resident Honorato Cardona-Gonzalez received a 20-year state prison sentence for drug trafficking and possession. Detectives found meth, fentanyl pills and drug paraphernalia on the property where Cardona-Gonzalez lived in December 2020.

In nearby Pocatello, officers arrested an unconscious man in a running car after they found a bag of fentanyl pills, several orange pills, suspected methamphetamine and ADHD medication in the vehicle.

The next day, deputies with the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office also arrested a Pocatello couple after seizing fentanyl pills and a variety of other illicit drugs in their home.

Every week there are new victims 

Santa Cruz, California resident William Chappelear, was killed by counterfeit Xanax made of fentanyl in January 2022, almost seven years after fellow Santa Cruz resident Tosh Ackerman died the same way in October 2015.

Landon Hausman, 16, died in Bethesda, Maryland on January 17, 2022 after ingesting a Percocet pill made with fentanyl.

42-year-old Jeff Geary of Miami, Oklahoma, died in May 2021 after taking  a hydrocodone pill made with a synthetic opioid called isotonitazene.

18-year-old Erin Schumacher died in Green Bay, Wisconsin in May 2020 after unknowingly taking a fake Percocet pill made entirely of fentanyl.

Help save lives. Please tell your family about counterfeit pills. Click here for resources to help.

Authorities in Bonneville County reported a sharp rise in fentanyl deaths, estimating that first responders had seen at least one poisoning a day since the beginning of  2022, with a third of those cases being fatal.

In North Dakota, the East Grand Forks Police Department arrested three people for their alleged roles in a counterfeit pill operation associated with the fentanyl poisoning death of an individual in January 2022.