November 14, 2022: The FDA warns about xylazine, a tranquilizer found in fake pills in 9 states.

This week: The FDA warned healthcare providers about xylazine in illicit drugs. Fake prescription pills continued to flood the U.S., with reports of more than 135,000 fentanyl pills seized, four guilty pleas, six sentencings, and related news in 18 states. Counterfeit medicine incidents were reported in Indonesia and India.

Counterfeit medicine across the country

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned health care professionals about the increasing prevalence of xylazine in fentanyl, heroin, and other illicit drugs. The animal tranquilizer, which does not respond to naloxone, has been found in counterfeit pills in at least nine states.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Louisville reported seizing 20 pounds of illicit steroids and 43 pounds of narcotics and precursors shipped from the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Canada during the month of October.

As of November 2022, PSM has found reports of fake pills that contain Xylazine in 9 U.S. states.

In the Pacific West

An Alaska man is facing 24 felony charges after law enforcement allegedly seized illicit drugs, including 21,500 fentanyl pills, from his home in Kodiak and storage units in Anchorage.

An Alaska State Trooper discovered over 150 fentanyl pills and other narcotics during a traffic stop in Moose Pass.

In California, Matthew Sanchez received a federal prison sentence of six years and three months for selling counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl that killed a father in Monterey County in 2019. Sanchez, who also sold alprazolam that a former pharmacy employee sent him from Mexico, continued dealing fentanyl pills even after the man’s death.

Bakersfield Police arrested six people when they found 80,000 fentanyl pills and four pounds of other drugs during the search of a residence on November 7.

A high school in Riverside, California reported reviving a student with naloxone after she consumed a suspected counterfeit oxycodone tablet made with fentanyl on October 20.

There were 134 EMS calls on the Big Island from April to September during which naloxone was administered. (Source: Big Island Now)

Amidst an uptick in drug deaths, authorities on Hawaii’s Big Island reported seizing more than 4,000 fentanyl pills in the first nine months of 2022.

Portland, Oregon resident Jonathan James Lawson received a ten-year federal prison sentence this week. Police caught him with ten pounds of meth and more than two-and-a-half pounds of counterfeit pills made with fentanyl during a traffic stop outside Grants Pass in 2021.

In Eugene, Oregon, police arrested a Springfield man after a traffic stop turned up more than 200 fentanyl pills and 35 grams of other illicit drugs.

Authorities in Marion County, Oregon indicted a Salem man who was caught with $164,000 in cash, 3,000 fentanyl pills, and other drugs in June.

In the Mountain West

Sylvestre Inzunza’s family is suing law enforcement and corrections officers in Pima County, Arizona for understaffing and negligence. The 18-year-old died in Pima County’s jail in February 2022, several days after taking a fentanyl pill that led to his hospitalization.

A Mexican citizen is facing prosecution in Arizona federal courts for allegedly trying to smuggle 71 pounds of fentanyl pills through the San Luis Port of Entry in September.

Adalberto Rohas was sentenced to 12 years in state prison after police in Adams County, Colorado found methamphetamine, cocaine, 1,300 fentanyl pills and more than $1,000 in his fanny pack after a car chase.

Probationer Joseph Drayton Cook, of Great Falls, Montana, pleaded guilty to drug and firearms charges. Law enforcement caught him with illicit drugs, including fentanyl pills; a large sum of cash; and a pistol in March 2022.

Douglas Leo Wynne of Ronan, Montana pleaded guilty to drug and firearms charges after Flathead Tribal Police found him carrying more than 1,400 fentanyl pills during a traffic stop in December 2021.


Police in Kokomo, Indiana announced the results of Operation Cracked Ice, which led to the arrest of 55 Indiana residents, and the seizure of more than 34 pounds of illicit drugs, including almost 400 fake prescription pills made with fentanyl.

A search of two homes in Evansville, Indiana led to the seizure of at least 10,000 fentanyl pills, more than $59,000 in cash and 15 firearms.

Law enforcement arrested two Elkhart, Indiana residents after seizing about 15,000 pills suspected of containing fentanyl.

Investigators in Stearns County, Minnesota found more than 300 fentanyl pills while searching the home of a St. Cloud man who allegedly sold them over 150 pills over the course of November.

The Nebraska State Patrol allegedly found nearly 1,000 suspected fentanyl pills during a traffic stop on I-80.

Nebraska State Troopers arrested a North Dakota woman after finding nearly 1,000 suspected fentanyl pills in her vehicle during a traffic stop on Interstate 80.

Police in Bismarck, North Dakota arrested a Washington state man after they found him with 870 fentanyl pills. A source told police that the man was going to deliver 2,000 fentanyl pills in Bismarck/Mandan.

Sheriff's deputies in Racine, Wisconsin arrested a man after a search of two properties turned up 3,600 fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl, several pounds of marijuana, firearms, and more than $15,000 in cash.

An Eau Claire, Wisconsin man was charged with providing the fentanyl pills that killed a man in August. According to court papers, the drug transaction was conducted via Snapchat.

In the South

Federal investigators in Arkansas arrested 19 who allegedly distributed kilogram-quantities of methamphetamine and thousands of pressed fentanyl pills mailed from California to individuals in Little Rock and Pine Bluff and Houston, Texas.

High schools in Hays County, Texas are working aggressively to educate students after several teens died of fentanyl poisoning from counterfeit pills in July and August.

A Pearland, Texas resident pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle 20 kilograms of meth and 8,500 fentanyl pills through the Juarez-Lincoln Port of Entry in Laredo.

El Paso Police arrested a man who fell asleep in the driver’s seat of a car after they found he was in possession of several thousand fentanyl pills and a handgun.

Police in Lawton, Oklahoma arrested three and seized 540 fentanyl pills with other drugs on November 9.

Screenshot of Ali and his 16-year-old buyer, who died in 2019. Source: U.S. Courts, Western District of Virginia

Matthew Moore of  Bradley County, Tennessee, was sentenced to 20 years for trafficking methamphetamine. When police searched his home in 2019 they found more than $66,000 in cash, at least 400 fentanyl pills, and other drug paraphernalia.

Lionel DeSaun Henderson and Shameka Tanee Mason of Wichita Falls, Texas admitted selling the fentanyl pills that ultimately killed a Graham, Oklahoma man in 2020. A search  of Henderson's home turned up about 500 m30s and more than 1,000 ecstasy pills.

Abdallah Amer Ali of Harrisonburg, Virginia, received a 13-year federal prison sentence after he sold a 16-year-old the fentanyl pills that killed him after being contacted by him on Snapchat in October 2019.

In the Northeast

Wilmington, Delaware resident Mandingo Joseph received a ten-year prison sentence for selling fake oxycodone pills. Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration intercepted a package of more than 1,900 fake oxycodone tablets that the defendant had mailed and found over 2,400 fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl in his residence in December 2021.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine issued a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration expressing “grave concerns” about the impact of counterfeit pills on Maine residents and asked the agency to update Congress on the progress of its initiatives to combat them.

International news

The World Health Organization issued an alert about contaminated children's liquid medicines circulating in Indonesia. The drugs, which contain ethylene glycol and/or diethylene glycol, have sickened and killed hundreds of children in Indonesia and Gambia.

Authorities in Uttar Pradesh, India shut down a fake medicine operation in Sambhal.