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Massive drug bust nets over 110,000 counterfeit pills tied to the Sinaloa Cartel

WOAI San Antonio logo WOAI San Antonio 1/7/2022 Yami Virgin

SAN ANTONIO — The U.S. Drug Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently made a major drug bust of counterfeit pills tied to the Sinaloa Cartel. 

Caption: DEA: Drug Ring Bust{{ }}

The DEA seized more than 110,000 fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl in Denver, Colo. The pills were manufactured in Mexico. 

"These counterfeit pills, we're seeing the most we've ever seen here in the United States," says Dante Sorianello, the assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in the San Antonio district. "The Sinaloa Cartel is very much responsible for importing and distributing a lot of the fentanyl in the country right now."

Along with the fentanyl-laced pills, authorities also seized six kilos of methamphetamine, eight pounds of heroin, 11 kilos of cocaine, and $450,000. In addition, investigators found 28 firearms, multiple hand grenades, high capacity magazines, and several sets of body armor.

Sorianello says he knows all too well how the Sinaloa Cartel affects the San Antonio area.

“The majority of the fentanyl being smuggled here by the Sinaloa Cartel is in pill form," he said. "The counterfeit pills that we see, the fake oxycodone and the fake hydrocodone, is out there. And that is how Sinaloa is affecting the San Antonio region right now.

Working jointly with their partner agencies, the eight-month-long investigations led to the indictment of 19 individuals and the arrest of 10 individuals operating in the Denver, Colo. area. The DEA says it’s not just about the arrests and seizures, it signifies the alarming trend in counterfeit prescription pills laced with fentanyl.

“Every year, the amount of fentanyl and the counter counterfeit pills is growing here in the country," says Sorianello. "Along with that, what we are seeing is the overdose deaths throughout the country,"

The Centers for Disease Control said in a recent report that the record quantities of fentanyl the DEA has seized in 2021 are "enough to kill every American." The DEA says the majority of them are dying from taking just one counterfeit prescription pill laced with fentanyl.

“So you can make the correlation that the drug traffickers, the cartels are killing people in the United States," says Sorianello. "They're not forcing them to take that narcotic, but they're supplying the poison that is killing people in the United States."

In your neighborhoods, on the streets, Fox San Antonio and the DEA will keep you informed and safe.


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