April 24, 2023: Border pharmacies have been selling counterfeits that kill Americans since 2017, says the L.A. Times

This week: A California man is among those killed by counterfeit pills at Mexican pharmacies. A 6th lawsuit was filed over pill dealers on Snapchat. Fake cancer treatments reported in the UAE, Kyrgyzstan and India. A new counterfeit drug bust in the U.K. Additional news involving counterfeit painkillers and fake Adderall in over 20 states.

National News

Casualties from counterfeits from Mexican pharmacies and Snapchat drug dealers

Jonathan Harms’ parents shared the story of how their son, a 29-year-old San Mateo, California resident, died in February 2017 after taking medicine he had purchased for a migraine headache at a pharmacy in Cancun, Mexico. Reporters at the Los Angeles Times, which carried the story, have found at least half a dozen other American travelers who were poisoned or died after taking prescription drugs from Mexican pharmacies since 2019.

With the addition of Zach Parsons of Dover, Massachusetts, the Social Media Victims Law Center has filed six lawsuits on behalf of 62 individuals across 22 states “who have died or suffered immeasurable harms because of Snapchat drug dealers.” 21-year-old Parsons died of fentanyl poisoning in April 2019 after ingesting a counterfeit Percocet he purchased from a person selling pills on Snapchat.

Price list from a Mexican pharmacy posted on Reddit, July 2022


Misbranded Botox in Massachusetts, prosecutions involving fake Adderall and fake painkillers in 17 states.

52-year-old Theodore Garlow, a postal worker in Lehigh Acres, Florida, received a five-year prison sentence for drop-shipping controlled substance medicines like tramadol, Percocet, hydrocodone, and oxycodone from his home. When special agents from the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General visited his home on October 1, 2021, Garlow had eight crates full of pills and 19 priority mail envelopes. Later testing of the pills showed that the majority of them were counterfeits made with fentanyl.

In Massachusetts, Greater Boston Behavioral Health LLC pleaded guilty and agreed to pay more than more than $2.5 million in fines and forfeitures for purchasing and injecting unknowing patients with Botox that was made for foreign markets. In the past, supply chain breaks such as these have led to patients receiving ineffective, counterfeit medicines.

Damani Nathan Jones received a 20-year state prison sentence for fentanyl trafficking after he received a shipment of over a kilogram of blue fentanyl pills from Chandler, Arizona to Hagerstown, Maryland in April 2022.

A federal judge in North Carolina sentenced Asheville resident John Paul Roberts, 40, to more than 12 years in prison for making fake Adderall pills made of meth and selling them on the dark web to buyers in 19 states.

Anthony Morales, a 45-year-old Los Angeles man, received a more-than-10-year federal prison sentence for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Law enforcement apprehended him at Grayland Beach State Park in Washington state in a stolen RV that contained a kilo of methamphetamine and counterfeit M30 pills made with fentanyl.

Black market cosmetic injectables have a long history.  Read about it, and find recent cases on pinboard.

The Missoula man who sold 18-year-old Tasia Mann fake Percocet pills made of fentanyl that killed her in June 2021 was sentenced to five years at the Montana Department of Corrections.

Jason D. Hartzell, 22, of Omaha, Nebraska received a 14-year sentence for dealing fentanyl pills that killed a person in Council Bluffs, Iowa in January 2021.

Alejandro Berrelleza-Bojorquez, 25, of Los Angeles, California, received a 76-month federal prison sentence after a state trooper found 25,000 pills made of fentanyl and a kilo of fentanyl powder in his car during a traffic stop in Dawson County, Nebraska.

Luis Ernesto Morales-Reyes, 38, of Phoenix, Arizona, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years after delivering almost 100,000 fentanyl pills to an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent in September 2022.

25-year-old Emma Staton pled guilty in El Paso County, Colorado court to charges of child abuse for the fentanyl pill death of her four-year-old daughter in July 2022.

People in Cherokee, Alabama; Twin Falls, Idaho; Lake Charles, Louisiana; El Paso, Texas; and Alexandria, Virginia were also convicted or sentenced in drug trafficking cases involving fentanyl pills.

Law enforcement charged people with providing fake prescription pills made of fentanyl that killed people in Gary, Indiana; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Red Wing, Minnesota; Mount Pleasant, Texas; and Alexandria, Virginia.

Seizures in 11 states

Fentanyl pills smuggled in green beans, seizures of fake painkillers, counterfeit Adderall and a pill press.

CBP officers discovered and extracted a total of 308 packages concealed within the shipment of green beans. (CBP)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Otay Mesa port of entry in California intercepted 3.5 million fentanyl pills worth an estimated street value of $21,120,00 hidden in a shipment of green beans.

On April 18th, CBP officers in Nogales, Arizona found 860,000 fentanyl pills and more than 80 lbs of fentanyl powder and meth hidden in two cars.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force announced that it had seized 83,000 fentanyl pills and three pounds of other illicit drugs from the Motel 6 in Spokane Valley, Washington on March 30, 2023.

When four residents of Massachusetts and New Hampshire were arrested for trafficking drugs, law enforcement seized a pill press along with fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Law enforcement in La Marque, Texas seized 634 grams of Adderall pills made with fentanyl along with Xanax, cocaine, and marijuana.

There were also fentanyl pill seizures in San Francisco, California; Clarkston, Idaho; Kokomo, Indiana; Missoula, Montana; El Paso, Texas; Bedford, Virginia; and Rock Springs, Wyoming.

Other News

Tianeptine and large scale COVID vaccine card fraud

Vice delved into the addictive properties of tianeptine, a non-FDA approved antidepressant that convenience stores, gas stations, smoke shops and other retail sites sell as dietary supplements across the U.S. The pills, which have been linked to fatalities, are banned in Alabama, Tennessee, Minnesota, Georgia, Oklahoma, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio.

A federal grand jury in Utah indicted a man in Utah and a South Carolina man who allegedly obstructed the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccination program by manufacturing and selling at least 120,000 counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination record cards across the country between March 2021 through September 2021. The cards were sold through Facebook for $10 a piece, or for orders of more than 100 with a 25% discount.

stack of a huge number of white cards viewed over a person's shoulder

A Utah man allegedly sold over 120,000 fake COVID-19 vaccine cards between March and September 2021. (U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Utah) 

International News

Reports of fake medicine in the U.A.E., Kyrgyzstan, India, the U.K and Nigeria.

The World Health Organization issued an alert warning that counterfeit versions of Defitelio, a treatment to prevent blood clots in bone marrow transplant patients, have been discovered in the United Arab Emirates and Kyrgyzstan. The fake drugs have packaging in English for the U.K., Irish and U.S. markets.

At the same time, authorities in Gurugram, India arrested a man who allegedly sold counterfeit versions of an Italian generic of Defitelio to cancer patients.

In England, Greater Manchester Police arrested seven people suspected of trafficking counterfeit prescription medicines. Drugs seized in the bust include the sedatives Valium and zopiclone; the painkiller tramadol; and pregabalin, which treats nerve pain and seizures.

Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) arraigned a Kano-based business man in federal court for allegedly importing counterfeit NSAIDs, antihistamines and cold medication.

WHO issued a Medical Product Alert about a drug used to treat clotting complications for patients undergoing bone marrow transplants. Read the entire alert.