August 29, 2022: FDA warns “Tramadol US” to stop selling controlled, unapproved drugs to U.S. residents

This week:  The FDA warns Tramadol US to stop selling unapproved drugs to U.S. residents. A pharmaceutical executive pleads guilty to making cough syrup for drug traffickers for seven years. Overseas regulators warn about fake cosmetic injectables in six countries, and Ireland reports almost 500,000 units of fake drugs seized in the first half of 2022. More than two dozen stories involve counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in 18 states. 

pharmacy website selling white and red pills

Screenshot from the front page of one of the websites listed in the letter the FDA sent Tramadol US. (August 2022)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned Tramadol US to stop selling unapproved, controlled prescription drugs to U.S. residents. The letter listed more than two dozen websites associated with the company.

Boca Raton, Florida resident Adam P. Runsdorf and his company, Woodfield Pharmaceutical LLC, pleaded guilty to making and distributing counterfeit cough syrup. Between 2014 and 2021, Runsdorf used Woodfield Pharmaceutical’s manufacturing facility and employees in Houston to produce more than 500,000 pints of cough syrup for a drug trafficking ring that sold the pints with counterfeit labels to buyers in Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Why was this lucrative? Watch our December 2021 video about the Texan side of this operation to learn more.

Regulators overseas issued several warnings about counterfeit cosmetic injectables this week. The World Health Organization reported that counterfeit versions of Dysport, a botulinum toxin product like Botox, had been found in Kuwait, Jordan, Poland, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Mexico’s COFEPRIS posted alerts about counterfeit Juvederm and the illegal online sale of Rejeunesse. Fake injectable drugs pose a high risk for infection if they are not produced in sterile conditions.

Ireland’s Health Products Regulatory Authority reported that seizures of falsified and illegal medicines fell from almost 900,000 units in the first six months of 2021 to nearly 500,000 units in the first six months of 2022. Most of the drugs seized were sedatives, steroids, ED drugs and painkillers, but seizures of medicine that claimed to treat Covid-19 rose more than 40%.

Counterfeit pills across the country

In the South

Police in Decatur, Alabama arrested four people after finding 1,200 fentanyl-laced pills and other drugs during a warranted search.

The Louisiana legislature passed “Gabby’s Law,” which excludes fentanyl test strips and other fentanyl testing equipment from the state’s definition of “drug paraphernalia.” The law is named for Gabriella Nicole Hebert, a 19-year-old Kinder resident who died after taking a counterfeit pill made with fentanyl in March 2022.

An East Baton Rouge man who was under investigation for drug dealing was arrested in a grocery store when he left his one-year-old in the car with 17 grams of fentanyl pills in reach. East Baton Rouge Sheriff's deputies found a pill press and a variety of drugs when they searched three properties associated with the investigation.

Lafourche Parish, Louisiana Sheriff’s Office arrested four men for allegedly distributing fentanyl pills.

Louisiana has seen an uptick in counterfeit pills. Keep up to date with new stories on our Louisiana state page, or check our the news in your own state.

Tulsa, Oklahoma residents Jennifer Canales and Ali Bashir Milad each received ten-year prison sentences for fentanyl distribution. Tulsa police officers found almost $23,000, fentanyl, a pill press, and other drug paraphernalia during two searches of Canales’s home in 2021.

Ronnie Levi Armstrong Jr. of Fort Mill, South Carolina received a 15-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to selling thousands of fake prescription pills made with fentanyl and other illicit drugs.

A federal jury in Columbia, South Carolina convicted Rock Hill residents Gabriel L’Ambiance Ingram, Darrell Larod Crockett, and Carl Michael Mann II for their roles in a multi-state, polydrug drug trafficking operation. The ring made more than a million fentanyl pills disguised as roxicodone and sold them in Rock Hill, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Charlotte, and Atlanta, Georgia.

Fentanyl pills seized in August 2022, Morgantown, West Virginia

Pills seized in Morgantown, West Virginia on August 24th. (Morgantown Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force)

In Texas, the Hays County School District announced that three students—two 17-year-olds and a 15-year-old—had died of fentanyl poisoning after taking counterfeit pills in the last month. The parents of one of those students, 17-year-old Kevin McConville, spoke about their loss in the hope of saving other lives.

A federal judge in West Virginia sentenced Bobby James Mitchell of Detroit, Michigan to six years and one month in prison for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and violating his supervised release. Officers in Hurricane, West Virginia found 499 pills made with fentanyl in his vehicle during a traffic stop.

Morgantown, West Virginia’s Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force seized 15,000 candy-colored “rainbow fentanyl" pills in the shape of oxycodone. Arizona, Maine and Oregon have also announced seizures of the colorful pills.

In the Northeast

The MetroWest Drug Task Force seized 1,400 grams of fentanyl in both pill and powder form in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Investigators arrested a New Jersey man for his alleged role in an operation that shipped thousands of fake prescription pills made with fentanyl across the country. The investigation also shut down a fake pill mill in Jersey City earlier this month.

In the Midwest

Police in Antioch, Illinois warned that three teenagers had been treated for fentanyl poisoning after taking what they thought were Percocet pills.

The Riley County, Kansas police department warned about fake prescription pills after four residents—two of them juveniles—survived fentanyl poisoning.

Officers in Bismarck, North Dakota arrested a Detroit, Michigan man who allegedly had 2,879 fentanyl pills in his hotel room.

In the Mountain West

Customs and Border Protection Officers at the Nogales port of entry in Arizona seized 1.5 million fentanyl pills and 104 pounds of fentanyl powder hidden in a tractor-trailer as well as 14,000 fentanyl pills inside a pedestrian's "excessively heavy" crutches this week.

Police in Chander, Arizona announced the arrest of a person after officers found over 1,000 fentanyl pills & 30 grams of methamphetamine during a traffic stop on August 17.

In an article in the Kingman [Arizona] Daily Miner, Aretta Gallegos spoke about her daughter Brianna, who was one of at least two women who died in Kingman in 2021 after unknowingly taking counterfeit pills made with fentanyl. In the same article, Bob DeVries, the project director for the Mohave Substance Abuse Treatment and Education Prevention Partnership, claimed that there had been three reports of fentanyl-laced medication coming into the U.S. from either a border pharmacy or a clinic in Mexico.

A federal judge has delayed the sentencing of Colorado fentanyl pill dealer Bruce Holder for the fifth time, until 2023, while Holder’s defense attorneys examine the jury selection process for his trial. Holder was convicted of dealing tens of thousands of fentanyl pills that prosecutors linked to nine fatalities, including deaths of Jonathan Ellington in December 2017 and Ashley Romero in June 2018.

Teller County Sheriff’s deputies arrested eight people in Florissant, Colorado after seizing 167 fentanyl pills, large quantities of other prescription drugs, and 29 pounds of marijuana.

Nickolas Rasmussen, of Idaho Falls, Idaho received a prison sentence of at least one and no more than nine years for selling fentanyl pills near an elementary school. Rasmussen pleaded guilty after he was caught selling counterfeit pills to an undercover officer in late 2021. His wife, also under indictment, is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

Romeiro Mased Williams, of Detroit, Michigan, pleaded guilty in Montana federal court to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. Officers caught Williams with 179 fentanyl pills during the search of a home on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation in December 2020.

CBP in New Mexico caught a U.S. citizen smuggling 4,600 tramadol pills and 10 rolls of prohibited pork bologna into the country yesterday.

In the Pacific West

Lorenzo Anthony Garcia of Brawley, California will spend almost 11 years in prison for providing the fentanyl that killed Josue M. Garcia Moreno, a high school football player who attended Central Union High School in Imperial County.

Pittsburgh, California resident Gage Pascoe received a 68-month federal prison sentence for distributing pills laced with fentanyl that caused a Walnut Creek woman’s overdose death in June 2020.

Fentanyl pIlls seized in Medford, Oregon on August 2. (Medford Police Department)

Warren Herman Sloan received a two-year federal prison sentence for attempting to sell fentanyl pills on the Hoopa Valley Tribe Indian Reservation in California. Sloan was arrested in March 2021 while he was trying to purchase 120 fake prescription pills for resale, even though he knew that counterfeit pills had killed two people in Hoopla Valley in the early months of 2021.

The Medford, Oregon Police Department arrested several people for their alleged roles in distributing the fentanyl pills that killed a 15-year-old Medford, Oregon boy on July 4th.