October 11, 2022: Indian national pleads guilty to smuggling controlled medicines to sell to U.S. residents without prescriptions
This week: An Indian man admits to selling Americans smuggled, controlled medicines prescription-free. The U.S. Adderall shortage continues. Dangerous counterfeit medicines were found in Gambia, Mexico and Pakistan. Captagon being produced in Syria. News about counterfeit pills in 14 states and the District of Columbia.
Manish Kumar pleaded guilty in Massachusetts federal court for smuggling prescription drugs from Singapore and India from 2015 to 2019. Court documents state that Kumar was a partner in a Mumbai-based company that sold generic prescription drugs, including controlled substances such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, tapentadol, and tramadol, to U.S. patients without prescriptions. Kumar’s company employed internet, radio, and telephone for advertising and operated a call center in India to take orders and payment information.
Seven of the nine companies that supply Adderall to people with ADHD in the United States are reporting shortages. Americans should be even more alert to the possibility that online storefronts that may look legitimate are selling counterfeit Adderall.
Examples of tapentadol tablets seized at the Chicago IMF, published in July 2021.
Cofepris warned about counterfeits of Brospina that used genuine packaging but did not contain buprenorphine.
The World Health Organization issued a warning that four varieties of children’s cough syrup manufactured in India were contaminated with diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol. The tainted cough syrup has been tied to the deaths of 66 Gambian children.
In the first week of October, Mexico’s drug regulator Cofepris issued warnings about counterfeit Limusten, an immunosuppressant for transplant patients; Avastin, a cancer drug; and counterfeit Brospina, Mexico’s version of buprenorphine, which treats opioid use disorder. The agency also warned Mexicans to avoid black market antivirals for COVID-19 because of poor quality control.
Health officials in Karachi, Pakistan reported that antibiotics seized in Karachi and Hyderabad were fake. Some medicines contained ‘calcium carbonate or chalk’ instead of active pharmaceutical ingredients; others contained substandard antibiotics.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published an in-depth article about Syria’s Captagon trade. The counterfeit amphetamines have become Syria's biggest export.
Counterfeit pills across the country
With the signing of Tyler’s Law (SB-864) in August, hospitals in California will add fentanyl to routine drug screenings for suspected overdose patients in emergency departments. The bill is named for Tyler Shamash, who died in 2018 one night after hospital-administered drug tests came back negative because they didn’t screen for synthetic opioids.
On September 23 and 24, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers with the San Diego Field Office seized almost 90 pounds of prescription pills made with fentanyl in separate seizures at the Calexico West, Otay Mesa and San Ysidro ports of entry.
Alexandro Luis Gomez, of Tucson, Arizona, received a 17-year federal prison sentence for selling the pills made with fentanyl that killed a man in December 2019. Gomez must also pay $12,700 in restitution to the decedent’s family.
Arizona troopers seized 68 pounds of suspected fentanyl, 52 pounds of which was in pill form, in the fuel tank of a car after making a traffic stop on Interstate 8 near Yuma.
Fentanyl pills hidden in compartments in a car. Yuma, AZ, August 2022 (DEA)
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that a 21-year-old Mexican woman was charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. Pinal County Sheriff’s deputies seized about 350,000 fentanyl pills that were concealed in a compartment in her car in August.
Peggy Hernandez and her family are hosting the third annual J&M Walk To Fight Against Overdose and Addiction on November 12, 2022 in Mesa, Arizona. Herndandez has lost two of her four children to opioids, including 27-year-old Marlin Black, who died of fentanyl poisoning after taking a counterfeit pill.
Police in Colorado Springs, Colorado arrested two people after seizing more than 350 fentanyl pills in a vehicle.
A sheriff’s deputy in Humboldt County, Nevada arrested three people after finding methamphetamine and a bag of blue pills that tested positive for fentanyl during a traffic stop.
A Stockton, California man received a 45-month federal prison sentence after an Indiana State Police trooper found oxycodone hydrochloride pills, fentanyl pills and two kilograms fentanyl powder hidden in his car during a traffic stop in Hancock County.
In Ohio, Belmont County’s Criminal Interdiction Unit arrested two people on felony drug charges after finding 2,500 fake M30 pills made of fentanyl during a traffic stop on U.S. 40.
Public health authorities in Alabama warned residents never to take prescription medicine that had not been prescribed to them: “If you take a pill that did not come from the pharmacy itself, it could have fentanyl in it.”
Six people in the District of Columbia were indicted for alleged distribution of fentanyl pills and cocaine between June 2020 and March 2022.
A K9 police unit at a package delivery hub in Gainesville, Georgia discovered 575 grams of fentanyl pills on their way from California to Oakwood.
Detectives in Kentucky’s Graves, Carlisle, and Hickman Counties concluded a week-long investigation by arresting four men for alleged fentanyl pill trafficking that led to two fentanyl poisonings, one of which was fatal.
"North Carolina Counterfeit Pill Involved Deaths, 2020-Present" examines toxicology results and demographics in 23 North Carolina counterfeit pill deaths since 2020. See the whole poster to learn about trends in the state.
Detectives in Davison County, North Carolina completed an investigation into fentanyl trafficking, arresting a man and seizing more than 3,000 fake oxycodone pills from his home.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Oklahoma unsealed the indictment of ten people who allegedly distributed illicit drugs from Mexico in the Tulsa area. On October 5, law enforcement arrested eight and seized 5,000 fentanyl pills and more than 1600 grams of other drugs. Two additional defendants are at large, believed to be in Mexico.
A California man was indicted in Texas for laundering dark web drug trafficking profits through cryptocurrency. He allegedly distributed fake pharmaceutical pills and other controlled substances to U.S. buyers.
Law enforcement authorities in New York announced the arrest of a woman who was found in Manhattan with 15,000 multicolored pills made of fentanyl hidden in a yellow LEGO container.
David Aranda of Erie, Pennsylvania received a three-year jail sentence for attempting to possess with intent to distribute more than 3,000 counterfeit prescription pills made with fentanyl in August 2021.