Man fined $10,000, sentenced to two years in Missouri prison for selling fake Xanax

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U.S. District Judge Matthew T. Schelp on Wednesday sentenced a man who sold millions of counterfeit Xanax pills on the Darknet to 24 months in prison, fined him $10,000, and ordered him to forfeit nearly $1 million.

Brandon Adams, 27, will also be on supervised release for three years after he gets out of prison.

Adams pleaded guilty in September to three felony counts: conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance via the Internet, conspiracy to sell misbranded/counterfeit drugs, and selling counterfeit drugs. Adams admitted that between at least October 2019 and May 2021, he sold millions of counterfeit and/or misbranded pills on the Darknet using the name “BenzoBoys.” 

Adams primarily sold counterfeit Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, and its generic equivalents. He used a pill press with imprints that were substantially indistinguishable from those used by pharmaceutical companies selling generic forms of Xanax and the color, shape, and size of pills designed to deceive or confuse buyers. Adams maintained a manufacturing operation at a secluded lake house outside Sullivan, Missouri. Customers placed orders using an encrypted messaging service and paid with cryptocurrency. Adams would then mail the pills or place them at “dead drop” sites for customers to pick up, his plea agreement says.

Adams sold millions of pills, including hundreds of thousands to customers who would then re-sell the pills.

After investigators made undercover purchases from Adams, they conducted a court-approved search of his apartment in Sullivan and the lake house. They found the pill press, tens of thousands of misbranded pills and bags labeled alprazolam, the active ingredient in Xanax, and clonazolam, a derivative benzodiazepine. They found about $630,000 in cash and two rifles at his apartment and seized about $330,000 in Bitcoin. Adams has agreed to forfeit the gun, cash, and Bitcoin.

“Brandon Adams was one of the most prolific manufacturers and distributors of counterfeit Xanax pills in the United States,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Chris Crocker of the FBI St. Louis Division. “Counterfeit pills often contain unknown substances and pose a huge risk to consumer health because they evade regulatory oversight.”

“The pervasiveness of these fake pills is a problem that cuts to the core of Missourians and the American public,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph Dixon of the Drug Enforcement Administration St. Louis Division. “DEA remains steadfast in its commitment to dismantle and destroy these types of enterprises that hide in the shadows and operate in the dark corners of the web. I urge people to talk to their loved ones about the threats and dangers of fake pills.”  

The FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Ware prosecuted the case.

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