November 21, 2022: India busts counterfeiting operation with $1m in fake cancer drugs.

This week: Police in India busted a large scale fake cancer drug operation; additional counterfeit news in England, Austria and Mexico. CBP in Ohio reported seizing non-FDA approved cosmetic injectables. Seizures, prosecutions and deaths involving counterfeit pills in 18 U.S. states.

International News

Fake medicines found during the shutdown of a counterfeiting operation, November 2022. (Source: Garima Times)

After a two-month investigation, police in New Delhi, India arrested seven people, including a doctor, three pharma company owners and an engineer, for selling fake cancer medicines. Searches of a factory and a storage unit yielded 80 million rupees worth (almost a million U.S. dollars) of counterfeit medicines disguised as products from 20 different pharmaceutical companies.

Police in England’s Greater Manchester area seized over a million suspected counterfeit pills during the search of a business. Photographs of the seizure show codeine, lorazepam and diazepam tablets.

The Federal Ministry of Austria reported that seizures of fake and illegal medicines rose 133% in 2021 and highlighted pseudoephedrine tablets and Ivermectin as particular problems.

Mexican National Guard officers in Sinaloa, Mexico reported finding two thousand suspected fentanyl pills hidden inside bread loaves.

Counterfeit medicine in the U.S.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Cincinnati reported seizing five shipments of non-FDA approved cosmetic injectables, including botulinum toxin, Juvéderm and Restylane fillers that contain unknown ingredients. The packages were on their way from China, Hong Kong, and South Korea to Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Virginia.

In the Pacific West

K9 Otis alerted to 50,000 fentanyl pills hidden in this fire extinguisher, November 2022. (Alhambra Police  via Twitter)

Los Angeles, California resident Edward Kim pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking and fraud charges. Kim mailed almost a pound of methamphetamine and 300 fentanyl pills to Hawaii in November 2019 and rented a warehouse to store pill presses, pill dies, and drug-manufacturing supplies in June 2020. He also stole the identities of prison inmates and others to obtain nearly $5.5 million in COVID-related jobless benefits between May 2020 and March 2021.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Gangs and Narcotics Division announced the seizure of more than 100 pounds of fentanyl pills during the search of a vehicle and residence in San Bernardino on November 10.

A K-9 officer helped police in Alhambra, California catch 50,000 fentanyl pills hidden in a fire extinguisher during a traffic stop.

Julius Rucks, of Butte County, California pleaded guilty to fentanyl distribution. Court documents say that he sold a total of 1,000 counterfeit pharmaceutical pills made with fentanyl to an undercover agent on three occasions between December 2018 and April 2019.

Detectives with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Street Team arrested a delivery driver in Venice for his alleged role in a drug trafficking organization that distributed narcotics, including counterfeit pills believed to be made with fentanyl. A search of his home yielded 638 counterfeit oxycodone pills and 21 ounces of other drugs.

An Oregon State Trooper discovered 12 pounds of suspected fentanyl pills during a traffic stop near Albany.

A two-day crackdown on street level drug dealing in Portland, Oregon’s Old Town led to the arrest of 14 people and the seizure of thousands of fentanyl pills.

In the Mountain West

Police arrested three people and seized over 714,000 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl and more than 15 pounds of other illicit drugs when they searched an apartment in Mesa, Arizona.

A Scottsdale, Arizona mother is facing negligent homicide charges; her 13-month-old died of fentanyl poisoning in September 2022 after eating some of her pain pills.

A Fort Collins, Colorado woman is facing murder charges for allegedly supplying the fentanyl pill that killed Kara Gorman on September 1.

In the Midwest

A jury convicted 21-year-old Hakeem Rose of dealing “perc 30” pills made of fentanyl to Anthony Barrientos, a 20-year-old Logansport, Indiana man who died after taking part of one of them in August 2020.

A Richfield, Minnesota man is facing murder charges for allegedly selling a woman the fentanyl pills that killed her in March.

A federal judge sentenced Cleveland, Ohio resident Larrie Ladell Campbell to more than 12 years in prison. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service caught him shipping 2.2 kilograms of fentanyl pills from Phoenix in May.

A man in Hamilton, Ohio was charged with trafficking and possession of drugs after the Butler County Sheriff’s Office searched a home and seized illicit drugs that included 1,000 fentanyl pills, $18,500 and 15 guns.

In the Northeast

A federal judge sentenced Brockton, Massachusetts resident Wilson Goncalves-Mendes to 12 years in prison for racketeering and drug trafficking conspiracies carried out as part of a Boston-based street gang. Law enforcement seized more than a kilogram of fentanyl (including over 2,000 fentanyl pills disguised as oxycodone) and a commercial pill press during the investigation.

A WBUR piece about the toll of fentanyl on teens and young adults in New England recounted the story of Sam Cioffi, a Salem State University student who died of fentanyl poisoning on May 1 after taking a fake Percocet he had purchased from a dealer working on Snapchat and Instagram.

PSM tracks Massachusetts' counterfeit drug news on the Massachusetts state page.

Alex Mahoney Wilks of Troy, New York, received a 33-month federal sentence on gun and drug charges; he was caught in February with pills made with fentanyl that he intended to sell.

Malvern, Pennsylvania resident Ryan Menkins pleaded guilty in federal court for his part in distributing more than 900 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with a fentanyl analogue in 2018. A co-defendant, Kevin Swing, received a six-and-a-half year sentence in 2020.

In the South

Houston County sheriff’s deputies arrested a man in Dothan, Alabama for drug trafficking after they allegedly found him carrying 50 fentanyl pills during a traffic stop.

In Florida, the Bay County Sheriff's Office charged a 21-year-old who they say provided five counterfeit oxycodone pills to someone who died of fentanyl poisoning after taking them.

A grand jury in Graves County, Kentucky indicted five people allegedly involved in supplying fentanyl pills that led to two fentanyl poisonings, one fatal. The investigation, which began in early October, involved undercover drug purchases in Hickman and Carlisle Counties and the seizure of about 900 fentanyl pills from a home in Bardwell.

Harold Bernard Gross, of Owings, Maryland, pleaded guilty to possession of fentanyl in large volume and received a five-year prison sentence. The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office’s Drug Enforcement Unit found 302 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl in his residence in July 2022.

Grieving families spoke at the DEA Dallas Field Division's Family Summit about Angelina Rogers, Sebastián Moreno, and Matthew Neal Harvey, all of whom are Texans lost to counterfeit pills made with fentanyl.

A 19-year-old in Wichita Falls, Texas was indicted for the murder of 20-year-old Zoe Brewer, who died in April after taking counterfeit Percocet pills made with fentanyl that he allegedly sold her.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics reported the seizure of over four pounds of fentanyl pills disguised as counterfeit prescription drugs and ecstasy tablets

Police in Tulsa, Oklahoma arrested a man after the search of a hotel room yielded almost 350 grams of fentanyl, most of which was in pill form.

Elmore James Hall, of Hanover, Virginia will serve one year of a suspended 15-year sentence for sharing half of a counterfeit Percocet pill with Delaney Lynn-Clark Thompson, a fellow high school student who died of fentanyl poisoning after taking it.

Police in Prince William County, Virginia arrested two people and seized over 1,000 suspected fentanyl pills after a controlled buy in the Haymarket area.