November 21, 2022: DEA Labs show 6 out of 10 fentanyl pills now contain a deadly dose

This week: The DEA says six out of ten fentanyl pills they seize contain a lethal dose. The FDA warns two websites and seven supplement companies for violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. A fake anesthesia operation was shut down in Pakistan. 23 more stories include news about pressed pills: prosecutions, deaths and seizures in thirteen states.

Blue "M30s," some of most commonly counterfeited pills. (Image: DEA)

The Drug Enforcement Administration announced that laboratory results in 2022 indicate that 60 percent of fake prescription pills made with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose; that’s up from 40 percent in 2021.

The Food and Drug Administration shared letters warning and to stop selling misbranded and unapproved opioids in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The agency also sent letters to seven companies for illegally selling dietary supplements that claim to cure, treat, mitigate or prevent cardiovascular disease or related conditions.

Pakistani authorities announced the raid of a counterfeiting ring that was supplying fake Restane, an injected anesthesia, to hospitals in Punjab.

Pressed Counterfeit PIlls in the U.S.

In the Pacific West

Read our pill press report to learn how these machines threaten for patient safety.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California indicted a Cerritos man who allegedly led an operation that pressed fake prescription pills made with fentanyl and methamphetamine and sold them on nine dark web markets under the moniker “Narco710.” Search warrants executed in early November yielded 450 pounds of suspected narcotics, six pill-press machines, 20,000 multi-colored fentanyl pills and illegal firearms.

27-year-old Jason Amin Soheili, of Laguna Hills, agreed to plead guilty and serve a federal prison sentence of at least 20 years for distribution of fentanyl resulting in death. Soheili provided fake oxycodone pills that killed a man in Fillmore, Utah in February 2021 and fentanyl-laced cocaine that killed an Aliso Viejo resident five weeks later.

The Central District of California is also prosecuting a 26-year-old Downey man charged with selling fake pills made with fentanyl that killed a 17-year-old high school student and investigating high-volume pill trafficking operations in Inglewood and Hawthorne.

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of California indicted five Californians for alleged drug trafficking offenses that included selling fentanyl in pill form.

In Placer County, a sheriff’s deputy had found nearly 60,000 suspected fentanyl pills in a duffle bag during a traffic stop.

A 21-year-old man who allegedly sold the counterfeit pills made of fentanyl that killed Kade Webb in December 2021 is also being investigated for his role in two more fentanyl pills deaths.

31-year-old Benjamin Fuentes of Renton, Washington received a 10-year sentence for his role in a drug trafficking ring that distributed illicit drugs, including fentanyl pills, in King, Pierce, Lewis and Snohomish Counties

In the Mountain West

Lewiston, Idaho resident Meaghan Slaney was sentenced to a year and a day for possession of more than 200 fentanyl pills. Two additional Lewiston residents were arrested after police caught them transporting 1,000 of the fake prescription pills from Spokane, Washington to the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley during a traffic stop in October. Another two men were caught with 500 pills doing the same Spokane to Lewiston run the day before Thanksgiving.

An Elko, Nevada woman is facing charges after law enforcement found 221 grams of fentanyl pills disguised as oxycodone, meth, a stolen firearm, an improvised explosive device, and drug paraphernalia in her home. Detectives from the Elko Combined Narcotics Unit also seized 1,487 grams of the pills in October.

In the Midwest

39-year-old Michael Allen James, of Des Moines, Iowa received a 20-year federal prison sentence for selling the fake oxycodone pills that poisoned two people, one fatally, in November 2020. Another dealer in the case, Gregory Michael Williams, was sentenced to 14-year sentence in August.

Finney County sheriff’s deputies arrested a 21-year-old mother in Garden City, Kansas after her infant was hospitalized for fentanyl poisoning and a search of her home yielded approximately 5,500 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl, as well as other illicit drugs. Police are still seeking the infant’s father.

Law enforcement in Minneapolis seized 10,000 fentanyl pills and eight illegally owned firearms and arrested 11 people.

In the Northeast

Three people were charged with fentanyl trafficking after law enforcement discovered about 100 pounds of fentanyl in powder and pill form, three industrial-sized pill press machines, and priority-mail envelopes full of pills during the search of a home in Boston.

Officers arrested another Boston man who allegedly sold approximately 7,000 pills containing fentanyl and a fentanyl analogue to a government agent and offered to sell a pill press to an undercover officer in March 2022.

The Queens, New York District Attorney announced the arrests of two California men who were allegedly found with 32,000 fentanyl pills outside a Hampton Inn at John F. Kennedy Airport.

A grand jury in Oneida County, New York indicted a Utica smoke shop owner after police allegedly found 477 suspected fentanyl tablets in his place of business in August.

A father in Danville, Pennsylvania is facing charges for endangering his 16-month-old infant after the child ate part of a counterfeit pill made with fentanyl that they found on the floor.

Photo from the seizure at the JFK Airport Hampton Inn. (Image: Office of the NYC Special Narcotics Prosecutor)

In the South

Roswell, Georgia drug dealer Hubert Nathans was sentenced to 18 years and three months in federal prison for selling fake roxicodone pills containing fentanyl to multiple people in 2017 and 2018. The pills Nathans sold killed a 24-year-old in October 2017, and sent a 30-year-old woman to the hospital in January 2018.

23-year-old Nicholas Brian Gosnell, of Canton, Georgia, received a 25-year-prison sentence in two separate prosecutions involving multiple crimes and three different victims, including John O’Connell, who died after taking a pressed fentanyl pill Gosnell sold him in August 2020.

DEA officials filed a criminal complaint against four South Carolina men for operating a drug lab in a trailer near Lake Wylie. According to the complaint, agents searching the trailer found a mixture of fentanyl and chemical binders in the bathtub. They seized seven pill presses, more than 60 pounds of fentanyl and more than $50,000 in cash.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Texas added four people to an existing indictment involving fentanyl pill and methamphetamine trafficking and a June 2022 death in Texarkana.

24-year-old Taylor Coffman died of fentanyl poisoning in October 2017 after taking a fake pill Hubert Nathans provided. (Image: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)