January 23, 2023: Fake pharmacy operator who sold controlled medicines without prescription gets 7 years and a $100,000 fine
This week: Updates to federal prosecutions involving a fake pharmacy that imported and sold controlled medicines to U.S. patients, a California man who sold used and counterfeit cosmetic surgery devices, and a couple that sold unapproved substances as smart drugs. News involving counterfeit pills made of fentanyl in 17 states.
Manish Kumar, an Indian prescription drug company executive, received an 87-month federal prison sentence and a $100,000 fine. From 2015 to 2019, Kumar operated an internet pharmacy that made $3.5 million shipping millions of unapproved prescription pills, including opioids, into the U.S. The drugs, which included ED medicines, Adderall, hydrocodone, oxycodone, tapentadol, and tramadol, were dispensed to U.S. patients who did not have prescriptions.
Kambiz Youabian of Tazana, California pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for running a nearly $6 million scheme to fraudulently sell used dermatological medical devices and counterfeit devices that he claimed were to be used with fat-reducing laser machines.
The FDA disbarred Mark and Linda Godding, stipulating that they cannot import drugs to the U.S. for the next five years. The Fort Collins, Colorado couple each received six-month prison sentences in June 2022 for importing non-FDA approved substances from China and reselling them as nootropics (cognitive enhancers) via their website, BlueBrainBoost.com.
Greek authorities reported that a global drug trafficking ring had been selling anabolic steroids and counterfeit pharmaceutical products to the U.S. and 15 other countries since 2015.
In Nigeria, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency reported the seizure of illicit drugs, including three million tramadol pills, in a warehouse in Lagos.
Counterfeit pills made with fentanyl and other drugs
In the Northeast
Colby Kopp of Winsted pleaded guilty to drug trafficking offenses after he shipped fake Percocet pills made with fentanyl to federal agents via a dark web marketplace under the name MadHatterPharma. Kopp and his co-conspirators manufactured the pills themselves.
In the South
Philip Patterson received a 40-year federal prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and drug trafficking for selling the counterfeit pills made with fentanyl that killed Alex Elbaz in February 2020.
Police in Henderson arrested two people and seized about 1,000 fentanyl pills in a traffic stop. A related search warrant in Evansville turned up more fentanyl pills and other illicit drugs.
A 20-year-old Elizabethton man is facing second-degree murder charges after allegedly selling fentanyl pills to Keaton Burgess, who died in late October.
Agents with the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force and the Walker County Sheriff Office seized a pill press, over two pounds of fentanyl powder, and more than 1,000 suspected fentanyl pills, while executing two search warrants in Chickamauga.
21-year-old Elijah James Perez pleaded guilty to selling the counterfeit “percs” that killed an Abilene man in February 2022.
CBP officers assigned to the Eagle Pass International Bridge discovered a total of 7.4 pounds of alleged fentanyl pills concealed in the liner of an ice chest found in the cargo area of the vehicle.
Police in Austin arrested a man in connection with 3,000 fentanyl pills they seized on January 18.
In the Midwest
Luciano Gomezllanos-Martinez received a 46-month federal prison sentence after officers found 771 grams of fentanyl pills and 616 grams of heroin during a traffic stop in Madison County in October 2021.
Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents seized methamphetamine, counterfeit oxycodone pills believed to be laced with fentanyl, and an illegal firearm when they searched a hotel room in Salina.
The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office reported seizing 40,000 fentanyl pills in a downtown Minneapolis apartment.
A St. Cloud woman is facing second-degree manslaughter charges after her toddler died in April after ingesting fentanyl. Law enforcement found M30 pills made of fentanyl in the woman’s home.
Officers reported recovering hundreds of fentanyl pills from a man during a warrant arrest at a Walmart in Rochester.
A 28-year-old Lincoln woman was charged with three felonies after she allegedly had 1,000 fentanyl pills disguised as oxycodone shipped to her apartment.
Felipe Penuelas-Rodriguez of Mexico received a 15-year prison sentence after he was caught with more than 2,000 fentanyl pills and a kilogram of fentanyl powder during a traffic stop in Toledo in June 2019.
In the Mountain West
U.S. agents in southern Arizona seized up to 440 pounds of a suspected precursor chemical used to manufacture fentanyl. The chemical was one of a series of suspicious packages that had been shipped from China.
Francisco Pantoja, 25, of Tucson, Arizona, was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for selling the counterfeit pills made of fentanyl that killed a Pima County resident on July 1, 2020.
Bullhead City Police arrested seven people after seizing 5,200 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl, drug paraphernalia, and a firearm that had a defaced serial number during a traffic stop.
Police arrested two and seized ten bags containing approximately 43,000 fake oxycodone pills and two baggies of a white powdery substance during a traffic stop south of Winslow.
Mesa County sheriff’s deputies seized 60,000 fentanyl pills and five ounces of cocaine when they pulled over a car for fake license plates near Fruita.
Grand Junction Police officers found approximately 5,000 pills presumed to be fentanyl during an investigation.
The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Spokane, Washington man after they found 244 counterfeit pills made with fentanyl, meth, and two stolen guns during a traffic stop in Post Falls.
A Weber County man is facing drug charges after officers allegedly caught him carrying 4,100 fentanyl pills and 378 doses of heroin at Salt Lake City International Airport in September.
In the Pacific West
Police in Skagway reported seizing a large number of counterfeit pills after the suspected fentanyl poisoning deaths of two men the weekend of January 14.
An Arizona woman was caught trafficking approximately 45,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and several pounds of bulk heroin on Interstate 5 near Salem, Oregon.
Kennewick Police seized a backpack that contained suspected fentanyl pills, cocaine, packaging materials, and a handgun when they responded to a car accident at a roundabout.