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ATLANTA - Cathine Lavina Sellers of Roswell, Georgia, has been arraigned on federal charges of possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl, and two synthetic opioids, furanyl-fentanyl and U-47700. A search warrant affidavit in the case alleges that Sellers was selling counterfeit 30mg Roxicodone (oxycodone) pills out of her residence in Roswell.
In conjunction with this arrest, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Atlanta DEA are issuing a public warning regarding these counterfeit pills through their public affairs offices as well as through the North Georgia Heroin Working Group, https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga/heroinopioid-working-group. A similar warning was issued just last month when fake Percocet pills caused numerous overdoses in the Macon, Georgia area. Five overdose deaths have been linked to the fake Percocet pills.
“This defendant allegedly sold counterfeit pills that were deliberately designed to look like normal Roxicodone tablets when they were actually laced with fentanyl and two synthetic opioids,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn. “These pills are especially dangerous because they may be more than 50 times more potent than normal oxycodone. Anyone who consumes these pills faces a substantially higher risk of overdose.”
Daniel R. Salter, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division stated, “Combating the explosion of synthetic drugs continue to be one of DEA’s top priorities. Substances like U-47700, also known as “Pink,” which is a synthetic opioid 7.5 times stronger than morphine, continues to wreak havoc on our society. DEA will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring dangerous ‘pill pushers’ to justice.”
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the indictment, and other information presented in court: On June 13, 2017, Sellers allegedly sold approximately 100 pills for $1,400 in cash from her Roswell townhouse to a confidential source working with the DEA. A field test of the pills was positive for the presence of furanyl-fentanyl, which is an analog of fentanyl, similar to morphine but more potent.
Later that night, DEA agents searched Sellers's home and retrieved the money from the earlier transaction. There, DEA agents found more pills, similar to those purchased, which also contained furanyl-fentanyl, concealed in a dietary supplement bottle. Agents also found a loaded Glock handgun and two magazines. DEA agents arrested Sellers that night.
An affidavit submitted by a Sandy Springs Police officer, who is sworn as a DEA task force officer, recounts a conversation between Sellers and the confidential source during which Sellers acknowledged that the counterfeit pills contained fentanyl. Sellers said that several customers had returned the counterfeit pills because they were too strong, but later came back to get the pills.
investigation revealed that Sellers and her boyfriend have been selling the counterfeit pills for some time before DEA arrested her. The counterfeit pills are described as similar in appearance to a legitimate 30mg Roxicodone tablet, except that they are a slightly lighter color of blue than the regular pills.
Cathine Lavina Sellers, 38, of Roswell, Georgia, is charged with possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, involving fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance, and furanyl-fentanyl and U-47700, both of which were designated by DEA as a Schedule I controlled substance on an emergency basis in 2016. Sellers was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 11, 2017.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration together with the Sandy Springs Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John DeGenova is prosecuting the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta has convened a regional working group to address the threats from opioid abuse and addiction, and more information about the working group can be found at https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga/heroinopioid-working-group and https://www.facebook.com/NDGAHWG . The U.S. Attorney’s Office further recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.gov.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.