Fake prescription pills major drug threat in U.S.


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — People who would never smoke or shoot up an illegal drug are more likely to take what they think is a real prescription pill, even if it wasn’t obtained legally.

But the Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a warning about dangerous fake prescription pills from Mexico flooding the black market.

These little blue pills are stamped with “M″on one side and “30” on the other to make them look like legitimate Oxycodone. They are anything but. The DEA says nearly 30% of the pills seized coming out of Mexico contain deadly doses of the synthetic opioid, fentanyl.

Counterfeit Oxycodone pills

A Sioux Falls woman thought she was getting Oxycontin when she overdosed and nearly died.

Jessica Pfau talks about her overdose

We’ve brought you the story of Jessica Pfau’s battle with addiction, which resulted in a sentence at the Women’s Prison.

When Pfau overdosed last summer, she thought she had purchased Oxycontin pills.

“I went to somebody that I hadn’t bought pills from in three years and was told by her she had Oxy pills. (I) Fixed it up to use what I thought were two pills,” Pfau said.

It wasn’t Oxycontin, but rather deadly fentanyl. EMT’s saved Pfau’s life with Narcan.

Angela Kennecke: Did you think you were getting fentanyl?
Pfau: No.

“You’re basically playing Russian roulette. You have people who are manufacturing these pills who are pressing them and you have no idea on earth what is in these pills,” DEA Agent Steve Bell said.

The DEA has raided pill mills like this one in Mexico, which used industrial pill presses and stamps that look like the real thing.

DEA photo of multiple pill presses

“We’ve seen a whole plethora of illegal substances in these pills; whether it’s fentanyl or one of its analogs. We’ve seen methamphetamine, we’ve seen vitamin B, we’ve seen all kinds of cutting agents. The opportunities are endless in what you’re going to find in a counterfeit pressed pill,” Bell said.

DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Steven Bell

The pills sell between $10 and $30 per pill on the black market.

Bell: People I believe associate taking a tablet as not being very bad.
Angela Kennecke: Or safe?
Bell: Absolutely.

However, if the pill didn’t come directly from a pharmacy, the DEA says it’s most likely lining the pockets of the Mexican cartels.

“The drug traffickers are going to put anything and everything into a tablet and find some person who is willing to purchase that tablet. They don’t care what happens to that person. All they care about is the money. It’s all about the money,” Bell said.

DEA photo of confiscated pills

Meth is also coming in pill form. Those pills have turned up in several states over the last couple of years. Some have looked like the ADHD drug Adderall.

The DEA says meth seizures have increased on the southern border by 300%. The meth is now more pure and cheaper than ever.

Those illegal pills are showing up in our area.

Cory Michael Poelstra is serving 121 months in federal prison. He thought he was ordering fentanyl on the dark web, but the drug he was selling turned out to be 4-anilino-N-phenethylpiperidine (4-ANPP)

Page 1 of Poelstra
Page 1 of Poelstra

Trevor Robert Harden is serving 108 months behind bars. He ordered fentanyl on the dark web that turned out to be cyclopropyl fentanyl.

Page 1 of Harden
Page 1 of Harden

Jacob Davin Hubbs is serving a 70 month sentence for selling fentanyl that he ordered on the dark web.

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Page 1 of Hubbs

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