January 30, 2023: Utah plastic surgeon faked COVID vaccines and vaccine cards, says DOJ

This week: A Salt Lake City physician allegedly faked almost 2,000 COVID-19 cards and gave fake injections, too. The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a roundtable about Snapchat drug dealers. Additional stories about counterfeit pills made of fentanyl and other dangerous substances in Canada, Wales, and 24 U.S. states. 

Fake COVID-19 vaccine cards seized in Anchorage, August 2021 (Image source: CBP)

A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City indicted a Utah plastic surgeon and three co-defendants who allegedly issued almost 2,000 fake CDC COVID-19 vaccination cards. Court documents state that the defendants also gave children saline shots – at the request of their parents – so they would think they had received a COVID-19 vaccine.

On January 27, family advocate Amy Neville and others spoke at a House Energy and Commerce Committee roundtable about the role of Snapchat in the sale of counterfeit pills made with fentanyl. The roundtable comes amid reports that the FBI is also investigating the issue.

International News

Police in Windsor, Canada warned residents to be wary about fake oxycodone tablets containing fentanyl packaged in bottles that resemble legitimate pharmaceuticals. It's not the first time Canadian law enforcement has found fentanyl pills in such sophisticated packaging.

Two Canadians who were involved with a high volume counterfeit pill ring busted in Edmonton in 2017 were sentenced to 10 and 12 years in prison.

Heath Canada removed seven unauthorized medicines—an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory, a cough suppressant, and some topical dermatology treatments—from a Facebook store and seized them from the store's warehouse in Edson, Alberta.

Police officers discovered 101,000 blue and white tablets—3,211 made of flualprazolam, 97,814 made of paracetamol—while searching the home of an alleged drug dealer in Aberystwyth.

Close up of a counterfeit oxycocet bottle seized in Toronto, June 2020 (Source: OPP Handout)

Counterfeit pills made with fentanyl and other drugs

In the Northeast

New Hampshire

Police in Hanover seized 2,200 fentanyl pills and arrested an out-of-state woman after her rental car vehicle issued an emergency alert because of her erratic driving.


A Youngsville woman is accused of drug delivery resulting in death and two additional charges for supplying the fentanyl-laced pills that killed a Warren man on December 18, 2022. The alleged transaction was arranged via Facebook Messenger.

In the South

This week's pill press seizures in Georgia, Louisiana, and Maryland underscore just how much counterfeit pill manufacturing is happening inside the U.S. Read about pill presses and the challenges they pose to law enforcement 


Law enforcement seized a pill press, more than two pounds of fentanyl powder, over 1,000 suspected fentanyl pills, three pounds of marijuana, and a large amount of cash during a drug bust in Chickamauga.


A McCracken County grand jury indicted two men for fentanyl trafficking after they allegedly sold counterfeit pills made with fentanyl to detectives multiple times between October and December 2022.


The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office seized a pill press, some fentanyl pills. a variety of other drugs, and firearms when they searched two Baton Rouge properties.

Authorities changed charges against a 19-year-old from Larose from drug distribution to second-degree murder after toxicology results confirmed that the Percocet he allegedly sold to a 15-year-old last October contained a deadly dose of fentanyl.


When federal authorities arrested a Baltimore man for wire fraud for fraudulently obtaining COVID-19  benefits, they also found a ghost gun, suspected fentanyl, a pill press, five cell phones, and fake ID papers.


Carlos Martinez of Dallas, Texas, pleaded guilty and received a ten-year sentence for fentanyl  trafficking. A Rankin County Sheriff’s Department deputy found 10,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl hidden in his Chevrolet Tahoe during a traffic stop in April 2022.


Mayes County prosecutors charged a woman with first degree murder for allegedly supplying another woman with fentanyl pills that killed Pryor resident Aaron Jenks in June 2021. Jenks’ direct dealer has already been charged.

South Carolina

More than 1,800 suspected fentanyl pills were among the drugs seized when law enforcement searched a house in Lancaster.


A Wichita Falls woman was indicted for providing the counterfeit Percocet pill made with fentanyl that killed Andre Diaz in July 2022.

A fentanyl dealer who allegedly sold 6,000 fentanyl pills to an undercover agent in Dallas is facing federal charges.


Fahid Rashid of Culpeper received a nine-year federal prison sentence for distributing multiple kilograms of meth and thousands of counterfeit pills made with fentanyl between June 2020 and April 2021.

Three teenagers in Culpeper were charged with drug distribution after a fourth teen had to be treated for fentanyl poisoning after taking a counterfeit Percocet pill they allegedly sold her.

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.

10,000 fake prescription pills made with fentanyl from a shipping distribution center, January 2023 (Kansas City, Kansas Police Department)


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


The Arizona Department of Public Safety announced the seizure of 28 pounds of fentanyl pills, almost two-and-one-half pounds of fentanyl powder, and nearly 52 pounds of methamphetamine during a traffic stop on Interstate 10 near Marana.


Officers found methamphetamine, 1,000 fentanyl pills, and a stolen gun in a vehicle during a traffic stop in Wheat Ridge.


Hugo Gutierrez Rodriguez of Yakima, Washington received a 33-month prison sentence for bringing methamphetamine and fentanyl pills to the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation for distribution.

Officers with the Missoula Drug Task Force seized eight firearms, over 1,000 fentanyl pills, and other narcotics when they searched a hotel room at a Holiday Inn.


Gabriel Ulloa of Las Vegas received a ten-year prison sentence for selling counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl that killed a 27-year-old who believed he was buying oxycodone pills in June 2020.


Police in Buffalo discovered 1,300 fentanyl pills while searching a vehicle at a gas station.

In the Pacific West

Fentanyl pills seized by CBP in Pine Valley, CA, January 2023.


Border Patrol at the Campo Station discovered 250 pounds of fentanyl pills when they stopped a vehicle on Interstate 8 near Pine Valley, California..

Christal Anzalone spoke about her son Nicholas, who died in Santa Clarita in August 2020 after taking a fentanyl pill he acquired from a drug dealer on Snapchat.

Kaylar Junior Tawan Beltranlap, a 21-year-old San Diego resident, received a sentence of 156 months in prison for distributing counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl that killed 15-year-old Clark Jackson Salveron on May 12, 2021.

Oscar Arturo Salomon Perez of Mexico pleaded to distributing fentanyl and a fentanyl analogue. Perez was arrested in October 2021 after negotiating the sale of and delivering 10,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl and about two pounds of p-fluorofentanyl to an undercover agent in Fresno.

Alfredo Sanchez of Madera was sentenced to seven years in prison for supplying thousands of fentanyl pills to a dealer working in Placer County and Reno, Nevada.

El Dorado County authorities charged a man suspected of selling the counterfeit pill made with fentanyl that killed a Shingle Springs woman in May 2022.

Police officers recovered three bags that contained 30,000 multi-colored fentanyl pills after the slow speed chase through the east side of Costa Mesa.

The search of two locations in Orange County yielded two kilograms of fentanyl powder, ten pounds of methamphetamine, and 15,000 multi-colored fentanyl pills.

A Selma resident is facing drug charges after federal and local law enforcement officers recovered over 17 kilograms of fentanyl-laced pills from residences associated with him.

Probation officers seized more than 5,550 fentanyl pills from a house in Bakersfield.


Investigators in Portland seized kilogram-quantities of narcotics, including 417 grams of counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl when they arrested a man who they say was moving the drugs between motels.

Portland Police seized five pounds of fentanyl pills and four pounds of crystal meth from a stolen car.


A federal judge sentenced David Berryhill and Jamie Kelly of Bremerton to 90 and 72 months in prison, respectively. They were arrested in June 2022 while they were transporting eight pounds of methamphetamine and two pounds of fentanyl pills from Arizona to Washington.

Robert Andrew Johnny of the Swinomish Indian Tribe received a six-year federal prison sentence for drug dealing while carrying a firearm. Police seized 90,000 fentanyl pills and two kilos of methamphetamine from a car Johnny was riding in in March 2022. A search of his home yielded more meth,and 2,800 more pills.

A Sammamish couple who allegedly left fentanyl pills on a nightstand within reach of their toddler has been charged with first-degree manslaughter in her death.