March 27, 2023: DEA Warns Americans About Xylazine

This week: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a warning to Americans about a sharp increase in the trafficking of the combination of fentanyl mixed with xylazine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to a Sedona, Arizona supplement manufacturer and a website selling ivermectin to stop selling unapproved drugs. A Montana man who hid his pill press operation under a haystack has been sentenced to 16 years in prison. News about prosecutions, pill seizures and deaths in 15 states.

National news - DEA warning on Xylazine, FDA warning on Ivermectin sales, parent advocates speak in California, Kansas, Oregon, and Texas

Fake pill made with fentanyl and xylazine (MADDS database). 

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is warning the American public of a sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine; in 2022, seven percent of fentanyl pills the DEA seized also contained xylazine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned a supplement manufacturer in Sedona, Arizona and a website that sells ivermectin to stop selling unapproved drugs using unproven claims in violation of the violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. 

Parent advocates in Orangevale, California;  Lansing, Kansas: Oregon City and Beaverton, Oregon; and Houston, Plano, Odessa, and Wichita Falls, Texas spoke about the deaths of their children from counterfeit pills.

Warnings and Other Incidents - fake pills with n-pyrrolidino etonitazene and fentanyl

Police in Westfield, Indiana warned residents about counterfeit pills made with n-pyrrolidino etonitazene ("pyro") that killed men in Westfield and Noblesville earlier this year and poisoned two teenagers last week.  

A student at Pioneer Valley High School in Santa Maria, California was treated for fentanyl poisoning after taking a counterfeit pill. There have been four pill poisoning incidents at the school this school year. 

Authorities in Avon, Indiana have made arrests in the fentanyl pill death of a high school student on March 15th.

Prosecutions - Pill Presses and Fentanyl Pills

Andrew Whittecar received a 16-year federal prison sentence for making and selling fentanyl and meth pills disguised as Percocet and Adderall. Law enforcement found pill presses and supplies on his Stevensville, Montana property after he was caught in Minnesota with 6,000 of the pills in 2022.

Misty Dawn Sykes and Keisha Dawn Murdoch of Boise, Idaho were sentenced to 188 and 128 months in federal prison, respectively, for the possession of more than 1,300 fentanyl pills, over a kilo of methamphetamine, and other narcotics to sell at a “one stop mobile drug shop” in the Treasure Valley area. Court documents say that Murdoch and Sykes bought and resold 2,000 to 4,000 fentanyl pills every two weeks

Luis Noe Hernandez Rojo of Orange, California pleaded guilty to drug charges. In 2019 he was arrested with more than seven kilograms of counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl, nearly two kilograms of fentanyl powder, and seven kilograms of heroin. He had already sold an undercover agent approximately 2,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills.

Defendants in Avon, Indiana and  Alexandria, Virginia were charged with selling counterfeit pills made of fentanyl that killed people.

Defendants were charged with distribution of fentanyl pills in Phoenix, Arizona; Fresno, California; Fall River, Massachusetts; Salina City Utah and Washington, DC.

N-pyrrolidino etonitazene ("pyro") pills courtesy of the Department of Justice

Seizures - Illegally imported prescription drugs in Texas, fentanyl pills in nine states

Agents with Homeland Security Investigations seized more than 10,000 doses of counterfeit and illegally imported prescription drugs, ranging from cold treatments to cancer treatments from four businesses in El Paso.

Customs and Border Protection officers at the Nogales Port of Entry in Arizona found over 2.5 million fentanyl pills during searches of a car and a pickup truck on March 17 and 18. 

Law enforcement in southeastern Massachusetts seized almost 50,000 fentanyl pills and $85,000 during an ongoing investigation into pill trafficking in Bristol and Plymouth counties. 

Officers at the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) seized 20,000 fentanyl pills from an Illinois resident after a drug dog alerted to her luggage. Another 5,000 pills were seized at MSP three days later. 

Police found a jar of fentanyl pills concealed in a stuffed animal in the trash at a rest stop south of Pueblo, Colorado.

Detectives with the Montgomery County, Kansas Sheriff’s Office took custody of approximately 5,000 suspected fentanyl pills in a PVC pipe in the Coffeyville, Kansas area.

Fentanyl pill seizures also happened in White County, Arkansas; Los Angeles, California; Athol, Idaho; Miami County, Indiana; Motley, Minnesota,

HSI El Paso

10,617 doses of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and prescription drugs seized by HSI El Paso from area businesses, including a flea market stand.

International News - Botulinum outbreak traced to medical tourism, 18 children killed by fake cough syrup

An outbreak of over 60 botulinum poisonings has been traced back to two private hospitals in Turkey. Patients from several European countries traveled there to undergo a medical procedure involving Botox injections designed to help them lose weight.

18 more children have been killed by counterfeit cough syrup made with deadly ingredients, this time in Uzbekistan. An India-based pharmaceutical company has had their license revoked as a result.