July 5, 2022: New York man sold U.S. buyers millions of smuggled prescription drugs
This week: A New York man was found guilty of smuggling millions of pills from India and reselling them to U.S. customers. A Missouri state representative resigns after she's convicted of treating patients with a fake stem cell treatment. Fentanyl pill prosecutions, seizures and deaths in 17 states.
Ezhil Sezhian Kamaldoss of Richmond Hill, New York was found guilty by a federal jury of trafficking drugs and money laundering. Kamaldoss conspired with others to import millions of controlled prescription pills such as tramadol from India, repackage them in a warehouse in Queens and sell them to U.S. residents. A co-defendant, Velaudapillai Navaratnarajah, pleaded guilty in June 2022.
Another federal jury convicted Missouri state representative Patricia Ashton Derges, 64, of Nixa for COVID-19 fraud, illegal distribution of prescription drugs, and for treating patients with a fake stem cell treatment. Derges has since resigned.
Counterfeit pills across the country
In the Pacific West
California Highway Patrol officers and Tulare County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Unit investigators found 150,000 fentanyl pills hidden in a car during a traffic stop in Tulare.
California's Alameda County Sheriff's Department announced the arrest of eight suspects during a multi-drug bust that included more than 90,000 fentanyl pills.
Authorities arrested three men in Barstow after confiscating around 20 pounds of blue fentanyl pills in their car.
In Ross, California, 17-year-old Avery Kalafatas is forming Project1Life.org to educate her peers about the dangers of counterfeit prescription pills made with fentanyl. Kalafatas lost her cousin, Aidan Mullin, to a counterfeit Percocet pill in 2020.
54-year-old Joshua Alan Breslow of La Jolla, California pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for selling Sally Manchester Ricchiuti the fentanyl pills that killed her in September 2020.
Federal prosecutors charged a Monterey-area man with drug distribution after he allegedly used Snapchat to sell fentanyl pills that killed two people, including a 15-year-old who died in Pacific Grove in March 2022.
In the Mountain West
A federal grand jury indicted 22 Arizonans for their alleged roles in a South Phoenix gang that trafficked drugs and firearms. Law enforcement seized 35,000 counterfeit M30 pills suspected to contain fentanyl and mass quantities of other illicit drugs and firearms over the course of the investigation.
A Phoenix, Arizona resident was arrested after police seized 166,000 fentanyl pills, some of which were hidden in the spare tire of her vehicle.
50-year-old Bray Sun Pike of Loveland, Colorado received a 23-year prison sentence after he was one of eight men busted with thousands of fentanyl pills, and over 12 pounds of meth in 2021.
Dakota James Hoffman of Bellevue, Idaho received a four-year prison sentence for fentanyl distribution after drugs he sold caused two fentanyl poisonings, including the counterfeit pill death of a 22-year-old on April 2, 2020.
Nampa, Idaho resident Gilbert Garza received a 10-year federal prison sentence for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine after a search of his home yielded 1,000 fentanyl pills, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
Montana residents Eric Charles Swan and Elizabeth Ronshaugen received prison sentences of eight and four years, respectively, for trafficking drugs including more than 9,000 fake prescription pills made with fentanyl.
In the Midwest
In Indiana, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office charged a 30-year-old man with allegedly supplying the counterfeit Xanax pill made with fentanyl that killed Nathan May in July 2020.
Police in Hutchinson, Kansas seized 142 suspected fentanyl pills and more than 170 grams of other drugs during a traffic stop.
Roddrick Wilson of Muskegon and Grand Rapids, Michigan received a 23-year prison sentence after Michigan State Police found 15,000 fake Adderall pills made of methamphetamine during a traffic stop in Muskegon in August 2021. Grand Rapids Police had already found him carrying smaller quantities of similar pills in February and June 2021.
Alyssa Miller, formerly of New Prague, Minnesota, received an up-to-five-year prison sentence for supplying the fentanyl pill that killed Marcus Krogh on May 21, 2020.
The Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force found more than 200 counterfeit oxycodone pills suspected to contain fentanyl while searching a man’s vehicle on June 30th.
Police in Wickliffe, Ohio reported the arrest of three people for alleged fentanyl pill sales.
In the South
40-year-old Jamie Keith and 41-year-old Artarious Davis of Albany, Georgia were convicted at trial for their leading roles in a drug ring that distributed more than 2,000 fentanyl pills disguised as Percocet, and 150 kilograms of other illicit drugs in the Albany area in 2019. An additional 26 defendants in this case have already pleaded guilty.
Edgar Fernando Neri, a bartender in Tifton, Georgia, pleaded guilty to distribution of methamphetamine. Neri sold methamphetamine and fentanyl pills he purchased from a supplier in Los Angeles, including 1,990 blue fentanyl pills that arrived in Tifton in October 2021.
Officers with several law enforcement agencies arrested 11 people and seized 15,000 fentanyl pills in a multi-site drug bust in Tarrant County, Texas. Two of those arrested were charged with distributing fentanyl that resulted in death.
A man in Woodbridge, Virginia pleaded guilty to federal drug charges after law enforcement found 14,000 counterfeit Percocet pills made with fentanyl in his Manassas hotel room in December 2021.
Paul Mason Perkins of Big Stone Gap, Virginia and Austin Jeremiah Lane and Cheyenne Cassie Carico of Norton, Virginia pleaded guilty to distributing fentanyl pills that Perkins acquired on Snapchat and Instagram. Two teenagers were hospitalized with fentanyl poisoning after taking the pills they sold.
On the East Coast
Alex R. Mahoney Wilks of Troy, New York pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a pistol and possession of fentanyl-laced pills that he intended to distribute. These items, more than $11,000 in case, and digital scales were found in his vehicle in February 2022.
The search of an apartment in the Bronx yielded about 110 kilograms of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine; 50 pounds of suspected crystal meth and up to 75,000 counterfeit pills believed to contain fentanyl.
A Lynn, Massachusetts man, Vincent Caruso, was sentenced to over 20 years for running a violent drug ring that made and sold hundreds of thousands of fentanyl pills on the North Shore. Caruso's mom, who helped out, got nine years.
Ten members of a Boston street gang pleaded guilty to drug, racketeering and gun-related charges. Local police seized a commercial pill press, a kilogram of fentanyl powder, more than 2,000 fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl, kilogram quantities of marijuana, guns and cash over the course of the investigation.
Stephen McCall of Brockton, Massachusetts pleaded guilty to making and selling MDMA, ketamine and counterfeit Xanax through “EastSideHigh” vendor pages on dark web marketplaces. Investigators seized more than 10,000 fake Xanax pills, about 27 kilograms of illicit drugs,and over $114,000 in cash during the investigation. McCall is the last of the three men who were indicted in the scheme to plead guilty.
A Lawrence, Massachusetts resident who was arrested for possession of fentanyl in March has also been charged with distributing counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl. Court documents say that law enforcement seized about seven kilograms of fentanyl pills, several industrial pill presses, and “M” and “30” pill stamps during a search of his apartment.
Police in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania arrested two people who were allegedly supplying the area with fentanyl pills. They also seized 7,400 fake OxyContin pills made with fentanyl from an East Huntington home.
Davith Hoy, 42, of Cranston, Rhode Island, received a seven-year prison sentence for selling methamphetamine and fentanyl pills. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found more than 1,000 counterfeit Adderall pills containing methamphetamine or fentanyl in a child’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backpack while they were searching the home Hoy shared with his three children in March 2021.