May 7, 2023: Operations Last Mile and SpecTor launch cases against fake pill sellers

This week: The DEA and DOJ announced the results of Operations Last Mile and SpecTor. News about counterfeit medicines in Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines. Pill press seizures in Texas and West Virginia. News about deaths, prosecutions and seizures involving counterfeit fentanyl or meth pills in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

National News

DEA and DOJ announce the results of operations to stem fentanyl trafficking. Parent advocacy continues.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced the results of Operation Last Mile, a year-long operation aimed at cartel distribution of fentanyl and methamphetamine on U.S. streets and via social media, which led to the seizure of 44 million fentanyl pills and more than 1,100 investigations involving social media and encrypted communications platforms.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the results of Operation SpecTor, a coordinated effort to disrupt opioid trafficking on the dark web. The DOJ’s Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) team worked with partners in the United States, Europe, and South America to seize 850 kilograms of drugs and launched 100 federal cases, including, for example, two separate counterfeit pill operations in California.

This graph shows the distribution of social media accounts Operation Last Mile Disrupted. See the DEA's slide deck about the operation.

Family advocates in Hughson and San Diego, California; Jefferson City, Missouri; Eugene, Oregon; New Brighton, Pennsylvania and Kyle, Texas educated the public and state legislatures about the dangers of fentanyl and other dangerous substances after the deaths of their loved ones from counterfeit pills.

New data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics revealed that drug death rates involving fentanyl increased by 279% between 2016 and 2021.

International News

Counterfeits reported in Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines.    

Mexican drug regulators issued warnings about counterfeit or black market immunostimulants, antibiotics, and analgesics, as well as treatments for heartburn, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and COVID-19.

Nigerian regulators issued an alert about a batch of counterfeit Ozempic that has been found in Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Russia. The fake injectables, which are relabeled insulin pens, do not contain any semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic.

The Philippines Food and Drug Administration warned that counterfeit versions of nine specific over-the-counter treatments for pain, diarrhea, stomach upset, and colds had been found in circulation.

One of nine counterfeit over-the-counter treatments found in the Philippines this month. (FDA of the Philippines)


Cases involving trafficking and deaths from counterfeit fentanyl and methamphetamine pills in 13 states.

Jason Amin Soheili of Laguna Hills, California received a 20-year federal prison sentence for distributing fentanyl pills that killed a person in Fillmore, Utah in February 2021 and a mixture of drugs that included fentanyl that killed a man in Aliso Viejo in April 2021.

A federal judge in Washington sentenced Jose Mendoza-Ruelas of Richland to over 12 years in prison for his participation in a drug trafficking ring that used a landscaping business in Kennewick as a front for its activities. The organization distributed illicit drugs, including tens of thousands of counterfeit pills made of fentanyl, in the Tri-Cities, Yakima and other parts of Eastern Washington.

Christopher W. Thomas, of Thornville, Ohio received a nine-year federal prison sentence for possession of methamphetamine after officers caught him in Wheeling, West Virginia with methamphetamine, fentanyl powder, fake Xanax made with fentanyl, a metal pill press and other supplies to make counterfeit pills.

Latae'veion Woods of Woodbridge, Virginia received a 52-month federal sentence for supplying counterfeit Percocet pills to a 14-year-old boy who died after taking them in April 2022.

Donovan Jude Andrews has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and selling drugs to someone under 21. Andrews was arrested by federal authorities in March 2023 after he advertised and sold fentanyl pills to teens by commenting on social media about the arrests of other Carrollton, Texas pill dealers.

Nicholas Gage Ivey of Spindale, North Carolina pleaded guilty to giving his 16-year-old girlfriend a pain pill laced with fentanyl that killed her in September 2022.

A Snohomish, Washington resident who was already sentenced for dealing fentanyl pills and cocaine in January 2020 has pleaded guilty to new charges, including drug distribution and attempting to hire a hitman to kill a witness involved in his case.

New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor charged nine individuals with making and trafficking counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl in Manhattan, the Bronx, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. During the investigation law enforcement seized five kilograms of fentanyl and cocaine and 76,000 fentanyl pills and methamphetamine pills, most of which were found in the boiler-room area of a residential apartment building in the Bronx.

People were also convicted or sentenced in drug trafficking cases involving counterfeit pills made with fentanyl or metonitazene in Porterville, California; Kalispell, Montana; Queens, New York; Fort Worth, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Law enforcement charged people with providing fake prescription pills made of fentanyl that killed people in Ledbetter, Kentucky; Shakopee, Minnesota; Everett, Washington and Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

Law enforcement found 76,000 fentanyl pills and methamphetamine pills in the boiler-room area of this apartment building in the Bronx. (Loopnet)


Pill presses and counterfeit pills made of fentanyl in 10 states.

Some of the 80,000 fentanyl pills seized in Clackamas County, Oregon. (U.S. District Court, Oregon)

Police in Corpus Christi, Texas worked with the DEA to execute 11 search warrants, arresting 49 people and seizing two industrial pill presses, thousands of counterfeit pills, methamphetamine, cocaine, THC products and $2 million in assets.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and New York Police discovered 300,000 fake oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl and five kilograms of powdered fentanyl in the secret gas tank compartment of a red Ford Expedition during a traffic stop in the Bronx on April 30.

Federal courts in Oregon announced the charging of a San Jose, California man who arranged the sale of 80,000 fentanyl pills to undercover Homeland Security investigators in Clackamas County in April 2023.

There were also counterfeit pill seizures in Cotati, Merced, and Pacoima, California; Aurora, Colorado; Glasgow, Kentucky St. Paul, Minnesota; Rock Hill, South Carolina; the Ysleta port of entry in El Paso, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Casper, Wyoming.