OK: Four charged in connection with distribution of fake oxycodone pills, Oklahoma AG announces

KOCO News –

According to a 2019 white paper on illegal pill presses by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators and The Partnership for Safe Medicines, criminals create counterfeit medication by obtaining a pill press, pill molds and the ingredients to make the counterfeit medication.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced Wednesday he has filed charges on four people in connection with a fentanyl distribution operation that allegedly claimed the lives of at least two individuals last month.

According to the attorney general’s office, both victims died from an apparent overdose and an investigation revealed they knew one another. The investigation into their deaths uncovered a chain of distribution of counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl involving the suspects charged. Information obtained at one of the scenes led to the suspects.

David Williams, Jr., Clarence Merrell, Carlos Scruggs and Isidro Hernandez have all been charged with crimes related to a drug-dealing operation, where they were selling counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained the deadly drug fentanyl. All four have been taken into custody in Oklahoma County, according to the AG’s office.

Officials with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and the Drug Enforcement Administration assisted in the investigation.

Hunter said fentanyl is incredibly dangerous because it is deadly in very small amounts.

“Fentanyl is deadly to the touch, and the equivalent of a few grains of salt is enough to kill someone,” Hunter said. “Counterfeit pills that contain this substance are illicitly manufactured and designed to look like common prescription drugs. These pills contain unknown amounts of fentanyl that are often in quantities that can lead to death. I appreciate the OBN and the DEA for their exemplary work in helping us get these drugs and dangerous individuals off the streets.”

Authorities seized over 700 counterfeit oxycodone pills that tested positive for fentanyl, numerous guns and over $16,000 in cash that defendants allegedly derived from drug transactions, according to the AG’s office.

“My agency is committed to aggressively focusing on the individuals and organizations threatening lives in Oklahoma communities with their distribution of these counterfeit pills,” said OBN Director Donnie Anderson. “We are grateful for the many partnering agencies who have worked with OBN since the onset of this investigation to help identify and arrest these distributors before more lives were taken. And today, we stand ready to assist General Hunter to ensure the families of the victims see justice served.”

Fentanyl is a Schedule II opioid analgesic that is up to 1,000 times more potent than morphine, officials said.

“With the inability to distinguish between counterfeit or authentic prescription drugs when buying them on the street, the consequences of taking these drugs outside the direction of medical professionals has proven to be deadly time and time again,” said Eduardo A. Chavez, special agent in charge of the DEA Dallas division. “The DEA and our Oklahoma law enforcement partners will continue to seek justice and hold those accountable for their actions.”

According to a 2019 white paper on illegal pill presses by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators and The Partnership for Safe Medicines, criminals create counterfeit medication by obtaining a pill press, pill molds and the ingredients to make the counterfeit medication. The presses allow them to make the same markings as legitimate pills, which makes it nearly impossible to tell the difference between counterfeit pills and actual medication, according to the AG’s office.

In the joint project, the agencies cite a DEA brief that found a small investment of a few thousand dollars by criminals could yield between $5 million and $20 million in sellable counterfeit opioid pills.

This post expires and will no longer be available at 1:56 pm on Saturday, July 3rd, 2021

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