Ventura County | Increase in Overdoses attributed to Counterfeit Pills

Ventura County Sheriff – Incident Press Release

During the last quarter of 2019, the Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit saw an increase in overdoses throughout Ventura County that were attributed to counterfeit pressed pills.  The majority of the cases involved counterfeit Oxycodone and Alprazolam (Xanax) pills. 

These counterfeit pills are generally mass produced in Mexico and then smuggled across the border.  The Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit has intercepted and seized thousands of these pills being trafficked into Ventura County.  Once these counterfeit Oxycodone tablets arrive in the United States, they are sold for up to $50 per tablet.  The counterfeit Alprazolam tablets usually are sold for up to $10 per tablet. 

Illegally manufactured pills do not have a safety testing mechanism, like the FDA, in place to ensure quality control.  Pressed pills commonly are manufactured using fentanyl, not the genuine ingredients in genuine pills. A 2-milligram dose of fentanyl is a fatal amount for most adults. For comparison, a common aspirin is about 325 milligrams. Counterfeit pills are manufactured in bulk so there is no way to accurately determine how much fentanyl is contained in each pill.  One pill could contain little to no fentanyl and the next pill made during the same process could contain a fatal dosage amount.

We recommend that you only take pills and medication that is prescribed to you and filled at an accredited pharmacy.  Possession or use of medication not prescribed to you is a crime and could also lead to overdose.  Each of the six Sheriff Stations in Ventura County has prescription pill disposal bins for expired, counterfeit, or pills not prescribed to you.  Pills can be dropped off and surrendered no questions asked. 

The PCU has made numerous arrests in cases involving the sales of these counterfeit pills and more arrests are expected.  If anyone has any information related to this topic the public may contact investigators from the Ventura County Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit at (805) 383-8700 or [email protected] with additional information about this topic, or any other information related to narcotics.

The Ventura County Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit is a task force made up of members from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Thousand Oaks Police Department and the Ventura Police Department. The primary mission of the task force is combatting the transfer of legal prescription medication to the illegal market. In addition, the task force works to identify and stop new trends of abuse among the younger population and investigates overdoses due to both prescription medication and illicit drug use. 

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