September 12, 2022: Americans don’t know buying medicine on social media is dangerous

This week: A recent survey found that more than half of Americans who buy their drugs online have purchased prescription opioids on a social media platform. Regulators in Mexico, Canada, the Philippines and India warned about fake prescription drugs. Additional stories about counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in 14 states. Fentanyl seizures in Tijuana, Mexico increased more than 300% over last year. 

Drug dealers use social media to sell fentanyl disguised as prescription pills, which have killed people in all 50 states. Learn more.

Researchers who surveyed 1,000 adults in the U.S. discovered that they were unaware how dangerous it is to buy prescription medicines on social media. Moreover, more than 50% of survey respondents who bought their drugs online had purchased prescription opioids or stimulants via an online platform, 35% bought COVID-19 treatments or vaccines, and about 30% acquired sedatives.

Given these results, it’s more important than ever that families, pharmacists and medical professionals teach Americans that licensed U.S. pharmacies are the only safe source for medicine. 

Counterfeit pills across the country

In the Pacific West

Mexican authorities seized almost 270 kilograms of fentanyl powder and pills in Tijuana, Mexico in the first eight months of 2022—a 333 percent increase over the same period in 2021. Baja California’s Public Security Secretariat reported that most of those seizures occurred in the Zona Norte neighborhood, which is one kilometer from the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the largest border crossing with San Diego.

The Placer County, California Sheriff’s Office announced that K9 deputies had seized 50,000 fentanyl pills during a traffic stop on eastbound Interstate 80 on August 29. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers from the Calexico and Andrade ports of entry seized 72 pounds of fentanyl pills concealed in a vehicle on August 23.

Federal prosecutors in Tennessee charged three Santa Rosa, California men with allegedly distributing fentanyl pills to 13 states, including Virginia and Tennessee. This summer, Homeland Security agents seized thousands of counterfeit oxycodone pills in three packages shipped from the Santa Rosa area to Nashville, Tennessee. 

A middle school student in Bakersfield, California was arrested after bringing 150 fentanyl pills disguised as Percocet to school.

Federal agents in Hawaii warned about fake prescription pills made with fentanyl circulating in the state. In 2021, agents confiscated nearly 40,000 counterfeit pills, a 2,000% increase from 2019.

A Gresham, Oregon man was charged with being the third-level supplier of  counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl that killed a 17-year-old teenager in Portland. A search of the dealer’s residence yielded more than 200 pills, some of which were rainbow-colored.

A Washington resident charged in Clark County in connection with a May 2021 counterfeit pill death is facing federal prosecution after postal inspectors identified packages of drugs that were shipped to and from his Vancouver address. Federal authorities who searched his house found 11,000 suspected fentanyl pills, steroids and other pills packaged for distribution, as well as 98 fictitious identification cards, six firearms, $32,000 in cash, and cryptocurrency documentation.

Rainbow-colored fentanyl pills seized in Oregon, September 2022. (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Oregon)

In the Mountain West

A federal judge in Idaho sentenced Gabriel Lopez of Tucson, Arizona to five years in prison for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. The Bannock Area Drug Group Enforcement Squad found almost 1700 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in his vehicle during a traffic stop in July 2021.

Police in Grand Junction, Colorado  asked that families educate children who may be attending high school or college parties about the pills after seizing 60,000 blue and rainbow fentanyl pills over the last two weeks.

A weeklong investigation in Boulder, Colorado concluded with the bust of a chop shop and the seizure of fentanyl pills, firearms and 15 bicycles.

The Northern Colorado Drug Task Force arrested a woman and confiscated several hundred suspected fentanyl pills, methamphetamine, handguns and cash from a property in Fort Collins.

Focus on Fentanyl Town Hall at CMU September 15, 2022

Voices for Awareness is hosting a town hall about fentanyl at Colorado Mesa University on September 15.  Speakers will include Mesa County Sheriff Todd Rowell, and retired DEA Derek Maltz, Victims of Illicit Drugs President Jaime Puerta, and Amy Neville, founder of The Alexander Neville Foundation.

In the Midwest

Dean Jeske, a bereaved father in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, shared the story of his son to warn returning college students about counterfeit pills. Peter Jeske died in 2021 after taking a pill that contained fentanyl.

Nichole Zieroff, of Toledo, Ohio, will serve fourteen months in prison for receiving packages that contained fentanyl on behalf of a pill trafficking ring between November 2019 and January 2020.

In the Northeast

Brockton, Massachusetts resident Allante Pires received a 28-month federal prison sentence and was ordered to forfeit a 2013 Mercedes E sedan for making and selling MDMA, Ketamine and alprazolam (Xanax) via a dark web vendor site called “EastSideHigh.” Law enforcement seized a pill press, more than 10,000 counterfeit Xanax pills, and 27 kilograms of other drugs over the course of the investigation. One of Pires’ co-conspirators received an eight-year sentence in March 2022. The other pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.

The Lancaster County Drug Task Force charged a Manheim Township, Pennsylvania resident with drug dealing after they seized almost 3,500 fentanyl pills, marijuana and THC products, firearms, and approximately $55,000 in cash from his home and two storage spaces.

EastSideHigh's page on Wall Street Market (image:

In the South

Franklin Senfles of Gretna, Louisiana received a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to manslaughter for the death of high school senior Hailey Deickman in May 2021. Senfles, who used Snapchat to arrange his drug sales, was aware that the pills he was selling were deadly when sold Deickman the fake Percocet that killed her: he had been hospitalized after taking a pill from the same batch.

Rolling Stone reported that there had been at least 14 and as many as 30 drug deaths among U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina since January 2020. Two of those soldiers, Specialist Matthew Disney and Specialist Joshua Diamond, died at the base in July 2021 after taking counterfeit Percocet made with fentanyl.

Several inmates at York County, South Carolina’s detention center were charged with distributing fentanyl pills after three inmates had to be treated for fentanyl poisoning around midnight on September 8th.

Houston, Texas mother Deb Scroggins spoke about losing her daughter Allison to a fake oxycodone pill made with fentanyl at a panel hosted by the Boerne Independent School District. The event was prompted by the counterfeit pill deaths of four teenagers in nearby Hays County.

Police in Kyle, Texas reported the arrest of two people in San Marcos, Texas on drug charges that include delivery of a controlled substance to a child. Officers found guns and 400 counterfeit Percocet pills made with fentanyl during the arrest.

Two young adults in Wichita Falls, Texas are facing murder charges for allegedly supplying the fentanyl pills that killed 21-year-old Andres Diaz in July 2022.


COFEPRIS, Mexico’s health regulatory agency, warned about 13 counterfeit lots of the cancer treatment Keytruda, three lots of fake multiple sclerosis treatments, adulterated immunodeficiency injections, and an unlicensed cosmetic injectable being sold on social media.

Health Canada inspectors seized counterfeit Nuceiva, a cosmetic injectable for wrinkles, from a spa in Vaughan, Ontario.

Counterfeit rabies treatment found in the Philippines, August 2021 (Source: Filipino FDA)

Detectives with the South Australia Police found a manual pill press machine, several punches and dies and supplies to make MDMA at an address in Cherry Gardens.

The Philippines Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory this week on counterfeit anti-rabies injections for sale on the black market.

The Drug Control Administration of Health and Family Welfare department raided several drugstores in Odisha, India to seize counterfeit blood pressure treatments.