July 24, 2023: Another “Operation Denial” defendant sentenced. Counterfeit scorpion antivenom warning issued in Mexico.

This week: Pill presses prohibited in Washington state. WHO issued an alert about counterfeit cough syrup. Jury convicted four in Florida who peddled bogus COVID-19 cure. Prosecutions in 11 states involved the trafficking of counterfeit pills and related deaths.

National News

Canadian national sentenced for his role in “Operation Denial.” Washington state law goes into effect that bans pill presses. 

A Canadian national was sentenced to 22 years in a federal courtroom in Fargo, North Dakota for his role in “Operation Denial,” an investigation into the international trafficking of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. “Operation Denial” began in January 2015 and ended up exposing an international fentanyl trafficking conspiracy with operators in China, Canada, and the U.S.

A Washington state law went into effect that prohibits the purchase, sale, or possession of a pill press in the state if it is intended to be used to manufacture counterfeit pills. The bill was inspired by the January 2022 poisoning death of Tyler Lee Yates by a counterfeit Percocet pill.

Parents in Escondido, California and Pittsford, New York spoke of the pain of losing their children to counterfeit pills containing fentanyl.

International News

Counterfeit medicine alerts issued by WHO and COFEPRIS. Health Canada fined a resident for selling poisonous product. Pill lab and counterfeit medicine ring taken down in Iraq and India.

COFEPRIS has already issued over forty alerts in 2023.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued its fifth medical product alert for the year. Officials at WHO tested a counterfeit cough syrup first reported in Cameroon in March and found it to contain diethylene glycol. Samples contained as much as 28.6% diethylene glycol. The acceptable limit is 0.10%.

Health Canada fined a Calgary man for selling “Miracle Mineral Solution,” a product made of sodium chlorite that is promoted as a treatment for a range of issues such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19, but is not approved by Health Canada and is poisonous. 

Officials in Iraq announced the discovery of the first-ever Captagon laboratory found in the country, and officials in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh, India dismantled a major counterfeit medicine ring.

Mexico’s drug regulator, COFEPRIS, issued warnings about black market versions of an antivenom to treat scorpion stings, an infused medicine that treats primary immunodeficiency diseases, and a medicine that prevents deep vein thrombosis circulating in the country.


Florida jury convicted four who sold fake COVID-19 cure. Massachusetts man sentenced for selling fake Adderall made with methamphetamine. News about prosecutions involving fentanyl pills in eight states.

"Miracle Mineral Solution" or MMS does not cure or prevent COVID-19, cancer, of HIV/AIDS. Image source: FDA

A jury found four Florida residents guilty of using their church to sell “Miracle Mineral Solution” (MMS) as a cure for COVID-19. MMS does not prevent or cure COVID-19. The church sold over $1 million worth of MMS and continued to do so even after a judge ordered them to stop.

Man charged in connection with the April 29, 2023 death of Catherine Hackim. Police found a bag of fentanyl pills in her Lakewood, Colorado apartment.

A federal judge sentenced a Worcester, Massachusetts man to 12 years in prison for distributing counterfeit Adderall pills made with methamphetamine.

Santa Ana, California resident sentenced to 15 years for selling the counterfeit oxycodone pill that poisoned and killed Adriana Davies on February 5, 2021.

People were also convicted or sentenced in cases involving counterfeit pills in Phoenix, Arizona, Fresno, California, Albany, Georgia, South Bend, Indiana, Boston, Massachusetts, Detroit, Michigan, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Muskogee, Oklahoma.


Counterfeit pills made with fentanyl seized in nine states and a pill press seized in one state.

Police arrested a Fairfield, South Carolina woman who was allegedly manufacturing counterfeit prescription pills that contained fentanyl and heroin out of her house.

The Rochester, Minnesota police department seized over seven pounds of “M30” pills suspected to be counterfeit made with fentanyl.

Police in Orange County, Florida arrested a man for allegedly selling Adderall pills. The pills tested positive for fentanyl.

Counterfeit pills were also confiscated in Russellville, Alabama, Columbiana County, Ohio, Nashville, Tennessee, Bristol, Virginia, Whatcom County, Washington, and Racine, Wisconsin.


Law enforcement officers seized pill presses in 16 states so far this year.