February 28, 2023: Senator Rick Scott speaks at PSM congressional briefing

This week: PSM hosted a congressional briefing keynoted by Senator Rick Scott. The U.S. imposed sanctions against alleged suppliers of precursor chemicals to the Sinaloa Cartel. Deaths, seizures of pill presses and millions of counterfeit painkillers and fake Adderall in 21 states. Fake cancer drugs in India and counterfeiting rings in Algiers.

Senator Rick Scott speaking at PSM's Briefing for the 118th Congress, Washington DC, February 28, 2023 (Sora DeVore)

Today, Senator Rick Scott opened the Partnership for Safe Medicines’ Congressional Briefing for the 118th Congress. Like many of our family advocates, Scott is determined to hold online platforms responsible for their role in fake pill trafficking:  “I won’t stop fighting for accountability and hope the FTC can get better answers when they and their advisory committee made up of law enforcement and advocates can develop clear reporting metrics."  Read the Senator’s remarks here.  

A recording of the event, including panels on foreign drug importation and counterfeit pills on social media, is coming soon. Visit our Virtual Briefing Page to learn how the $200 billion fake drug market affects the U.S.

Counterfeit pills made with fentanyl and other drugs

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions to freeze the U.S. assets of six Sinaloa Cartel members and six companies involved in providing precursor chemicals at the root of the illicit methamphetamine and fentanyl trade. Among the companies named is a pharmacy in Sinaloa.

View OFAC's chart about the individuals and entities it has sanctioned.

In the northeast


Two Haverhill residents are facing charges for allegedly manufacturing and distributing tens of thousands of counterfeit prescription pills made with fentanyl after a search of their home in mid-February yielded approximately 40,000 fentanyl pills, two pill presses, suspected fentanyl powder and other pill-manufacturing paraphernalia.

Three people were indicted after they allegedly shipped illicit drugs, including fentanyl pills, in toy trucks, Halloween decorations, and Disney toys from Arizona to Massachusetts.

Approximately 666,000 methamphetamine-laced counterfeit Adderall pills seized in Cumberland, Rhode Island in 2022.


A Bensalem man allegedly sold a fake prescription pill made with fentanyl that killed Olivia Seaberg in Bristol Township in November 2022.

Rhode Island

Dylan Rodas of Cumberland received a ten-year federal prison sentence. When agents arrested him for delivering methamphetamine to a confidential source in March 2022, they seized approximately 666,000 methamphetamine pills disguised as Adderall, fake oxycodone pills made of fentanyl, two pill presses, methamphetamine, cocaine, $15,000, and seven handguns.

In the South


Morgan City police arrested a woman after they allegedly found over 500 alprazolam pills that field-tested positive for fentanyl scattered all over her vehicle.

Louisiana State Police arrested a man with more than 200 fentanyl pills during Mardi Gras festivities in the French Quarter.


Law enforcement seized 290 fentanyl pills, 75 Xanax tablets, during a drug bust in Bowling Green.


Broken Arrow resident Rebekah Brown shared the story of her son, Cole, who died in September 2022 after taking a fake Percocet made of fentanyl.

Raul Plata-Cibrian of Mexico pleaded guilty to possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute. Tulsa Police seized over a kilogram of fentanyl pills and almost seven kilograms of other narcotics from his residence in August 2022.

Counterfeit alprazolam pills seized in Morgan City, Louisiana, February 2023/


Mark Fahlsing shared the story of his daughter, Jesse, a math major at UT San Antonio, who died of fentanyl poisoning in November 2022. Investigators found pills in her room.

Smith County deputies found approximately 42,000 pills hidden in a vehicle during a traffic stop.


The Drug Enforcement Administration and Virginia State Police seized 15 pounds of suspected fentanyl pills in a checked bag at Dulles International Airport on January 30.

In the Midwest


Anthony Joseph Drury of St. Hilaire received a one-year sentence after pleading guilty to third-degree murder for the December 2021 counterfeit pill death of his fiancée, Michaela Rose Constance Cooper.

Minnesota State Patrol troopers found two suitcases containing approximately 45,000 fentanyl pills and a kilogram of cocaine during a traffic stop at the Iowa state line.


Darrel B. Twombly of Bayport, Minnesota received a 15-year-and-eight-month sentence for possession with intent to distribute narcotics after Lincoln police found five pounds of methamphetamine, 892 fentanyl pills, fentanyl powder and heroin in his vehicle during a December 2020 traffic stop.


Lorain County Public Health issued an alert about "unusually high rates of opioid overdoses" triggered by fake pills made with fentanyl that resemble Adderall, Xanax, or oxycodone.

In the Mountain West

4.5 million fentanyl pills and over 3,000 pounds of other narcotics seized by police in Tempe, Arizona, February 2023.


Law enforcement in Tempe seized an estimated 4.5 million fentanyl pills and over 3,000 pounds of other narcotics.

Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers found almost 1.3 million pills made with fentanyl when they responded to a crash on I-10 near Sacaton.


Detectives with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office seized approximately 450 counterfeit fentanyl pills, heroin, methamphetamine and a loaded handgun during a traffic stop on February 22.

An Idaho Falls Police officer found methamphetamine and 2,000 fentanyl pills concealed in a sock when he searched a car on February 17.


A postal inspector found approximately 200 “M30” pills made of fentanyl inside of a Monopoly box on their way to a Bozeman resident.


Washington City Police seized 95 pounds of methamphetamine and more than 18 pounds of suspected fentanyl pills during a traffic stop.


Police allegedly confiscated 800 pills of fentanyl while searching a home in Lovell.

In the Pacific West


Southeast Alaska Cities Against Drugs task force members arrested two people at the Juneau Airport after discovering approximately 5,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills believed to contain fentanyl in their luggage.


Bay Area lawmaker Nancy Skinner introduced California Senate Bill 287, which would fine online platforms if they were found to be accountable for promoting both fentanyl or firearms sales.

An Oakland man was charged with possession with intent to deliver fentanyl. Court documents allege that M30 pills he provided were sold to a person who died after taking them.


Police on the Big Island of Hawai‘i reported that they had seized 4,000 grams of fentanyl powder and 15,000 fake pills made with fentanyl between November 2021 and February 2023.


A Beaverton man was charged in federal court after allegedly dealing powdered fentanyl and prescription pills in downtown Portland.


Kendall Aston received a five-year prison sentence after Seattle Police officers caught him dealing fentanyl pills and other drugs in March 2022.

International news

Authorities in India reported that cancer drugs seized from a warehouse in the city of Loni in November 2022 were counterfeit or substandard. According to police, counterfeiters purchased capsules, filled them with starch, and sold them to Indian patients at a discount.

Authorities in Algiers dismantled a counterfeiting ring that sold counterfeit and expired products to public hospitals.