January 16, 2023: Eight more families sue Snapchat over online pill dealers.

This week: Another lawsuit on behalf of families who lost their children to fentanyl pill dealers on Snapchat. UK authorities sentenced a Scottish man for a high-volume fake Valium scheme. Police in Mumbai are investigating a death related to a fake iron injection. Prosecutions, deaths and seizures related to counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in 18 states and Washington, D.C.

The Social Media Victims Law Center (SMVLC) filed a fourth lawsuit against Snapchat on behalf of the families of eight teenagers and young adults who died after taking fentanyl pills sold by Snapchat drug dealers. This suit brings the total number of families suing the platform to 28

Last September, a parent-led commission working on the problem of drug trafficking on social media released recommendations for social media companies to curb drug dealers on their platforms. Read the report here.

International News

Police in Mumbai, India arrested 12 people, including medical suppliers and a store owner, in connection with a counterfeit iron injection that killed a 55-year-old man in October 2022.

A Scottish man who ran a counterfeit pill operation that produced hundreds of thousands of etizolam pills disguised as Valium and other prescription pills from a property in North Lanarkshire received a four-and-a-half year sentence.


Fake pill lab run in North Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Counterfeit pills made with fentanyl and other drugs

In the Northeast


Luis Manuel Rodriguez Then, 31, formerly of Lawrence, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for his part in a drug ring that sold illicit drugs, including fentanyl pills in and around Lawrence.

Another Lawrence resident, Miguel Mejia, received a five-year federal sentence for selling ghost guns, ammunition and fentanyl. A search of his residence in December 2020 turned up five baggies of narcotics and a pill press and pill stamping set.

Antonio Rosario Garcia and Cintia Franco of Worcester were sentenced to 80 and 24 months, respectively, for supplying illicit drugs, including fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl, in Worcester.

New Hampshire

Governor Chris Sununu announced a new public awareness campaign titled “No Safe Experience” to educate youth, young adults, and families about fentanyl in counterfeit pills and illicit drugs.

In the South


North Alabama Drug Task Force agents arrested and charged a man who was allegedly selling fentanyl-pressed pills while working security at a high school basketball game in Huntsville.


The Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested two men for allegedly distributing fentanyl pills after officers found 2,000 fentanyl pills in a home in Denham Springs.


Law enforcement officers raided a barber shop in north Tupelo, arresting three people and seizing more than 10,000 suspected fentanyl pills, as well as suspected methamphetamine, THC, and psilocybin edibles,


A Plano resident is facing drug trafficking and money laundering charges after a search of his home in September 2022 yielded two kilograms of fentanyl powder, over a kilogram of fentanyl pills, a pill press, 30 firearms, and luxury vehicles.

Alleged fentanyl pills seized in Tupelo, Mississippi (Tupelo Police Department)


A federal grand jury in Charlottesville indicted a Greene County man after officers found more than 10,000 fentanyl pills, a kilogram of fentanyl powder, and more than six kilograms of other illicit drugs in his possession.

Washington, D.C.

Local and federal law enforcement charged eight people in the Washington, D.C. area and arrested seven of them for alleged drug distribution. Officers carrying out search warrants associated with the arrests found firearms, fake pills containing fentanyl, cocaine, PCP, and $60,000 in cash.

West Virginia

Gregory Allen Sirk of Martinsburg received an 11-year sentence after pleading guilty to deliberately selling counterfeit pills made of acetyl fentanyl and fentanyl in May 2022.

In the Midwest


Two Detroit residents received five-year sentences for their roles in a drug ring targeting the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota, where one of them observed that there was “hella money to be made” selling fentanyl.


Nebraska State Patrol troopers seized 50,000 suspected fentanyl pills during a traffic stop near Aurora.


Lance Tobias of Cleveland received a 10-year prison sentence and a $100,000 fine after pleading guilty to shipping fentanyl pills through the U.S. mail in 2020.


A 15-year-old from Green Bay was charged with first-degree reckless homicide for allegedly providing fake Percocet made with fentanyl to a teenager before his death in December.

In the Mountain West


Tucson resident Jose Nunley, Sr. received a four-and-a-half year sentence for selling fentanyl from his food truck with his son, Joshua Martin Nunley. Officers searching Joshua Nunley’s home found illicit drugs, including more than 300 fentanyl pills, inside of a safe.


A federal judge sentenced Colorado resident Bruce Holder to life in prison for the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death. Between 2017 and 2018, Holder and his family imported tens of thousands of fake oxycodone pills made with fentanyl from Mexico into Western Colorado. The pills they sold killed Carbondale resident Jonathan Ellington in 2017 and other Colorado residents, including Ashley Romero in June 2018.

Thornton residents Maria Aurora Garcia-Paulino and Laura Iveth Trujillo-Solano received 24- and 72- month sentences, respectively, for laundering money gained through the sale of heroin, fentanyl pills, and methamphetamine.

A Mesa County Sheriff’s deputy seized 60,000 blue fentanyl pills during a traffic stop on a vehicle on I-70 near Fruita, Colorado.

Ashley Romero, with her son and dogs.


A Greybull man will be prosecuted in Big Horn District Court for allegedly selling Jordan Jackson of Cody the counterfeit oxycodone pill that killed him on January 2, 2023.

The Boulder and Lakewood Police Departments found guns, electronics, and drugs, including 2,000 fentanyl pills, when they recovered $400,000 in stolen art from a Lakewood hotel on January 7.

In the Pacific West

Milo, a Sheriff’s canine, with part of the drug stash during a traffic stop (San Diego County Sheriffs Department)


Alexander Michael Randise of Ocean Beach was sentenced to more than 15 months in prison for selling counterfeit M-30 pills made with fentanyl that killed 30-year-old Tyber Joseph Lustig in December 2021.

Police in Ojai found suspected fentanyl pills while investigating the death of an Oak View man on January 13.

An Irvine woman was charged with four counts related to child abuse and endangerment after her young son suffered fentanyl poisoning on January 9 and police found a baggie filled with fentanyl and Xanax pills in her home. As of January 12, the child was still hospitalized.

Sheriff’s deputies in San Diego arrested a man near Camp Pendleton on suspicion of transporting drugs after finding 240,000 oxycodone pills in his car’s gas tank.


Portland Police and the DEA seized 30,000 fentanyl pills during an investigation.


On December 28, the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force seized more than 120,000 fentanyl-laced pills, over 42 pounds of methamphetamine, a gun and $152,000, most of which was buried outside a residence.