Michigan man charged with selling fake drugs on the dark web

ABC 57

STURGIS, Mich. -- The United States District Attorney's Office has charged 47-year-old Erik Miller of Sturgis with multiple drug trafficking crimes, including selling fake anti-depressants.

“Popping a fake pill is a game of Russian Roulette,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “One pill can kill. Only take prescription drugs prescribed by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. Never trust your own eyes to determine if a pill is legitimate. If you have any doubt, don't. And get the word out to your kids, loved ones, and friends.”

Documents in the case allege that Miller was working with a dark web vendor to distribute fake pills, as well as illegal controlled substances and actual prescription drugs.

Authorities say the fake pills were made to look like authentic Xanax® pills, which Pharmacia & Upjohn, Co., a division of Pfizer, Inc., manufactures for distribution in the United States. Other pharmaceutical companies also manufacture and sell Alprazolam (the active ingredient in Xanax®) under different brand names.

The items were bought and sold on the dark web, a part of the internet that allows users to hide their identities and locations.

“The dark web provides a false sense of security,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene. “Drug dealers think they can hide behind a computer keyboard and anonymously distribute drugs, and that is not the case. It doesn’t matter what means criminals use to distribute their deadly products; we will employ every resource to track down anyone who places profit over lives.”

Authorities say fake medications that have different ingredients than the actual medication may contain no active ingredient, the wrong active ingredient, or have the right ingredient but in an incorrect quantity. All situations are potentially harmful. 

“Safeguarding the American public is our top priority at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. We are committed to investigating and dismantling drug traffickers like Mr. Miller, who was recently indicted for illegally distributing counterfeit pills and narcotics nationwide,” said Inspector in Charge Rodney Hopkins of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service's Detroit Division. “Together with our law enforcement partners, we will relentlessly pursue and apprehend those who exploit the U.S. Mail to distribute dangerous drugs in our communities.”

Miller was also charged with conspiracy to distribute Xanax® and MDMA; possession of MDMA and methamphetamine with the intent to distribute; and with being a felon in possession of multiple firearms.

Authorities say if convicted of the drug trafficking charges, Miller faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. The gun charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years and a $250,000 fine.

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