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Press Release

Sturgis Man Charged With Selling Counterfeit Drugs On Dark Web

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten today announced that Erik Miller, a 47-year-old resident of Sturgis, Michigan, faces multiple drug trafficking charges, including selling and holding for sale counterfeit drugs, such as fake Xanax®.

          “Popping a fake pill is a game of Russian Roulette,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “One pill can kill.” He continued: “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.”

          The indictment alleges that Miller was working with a dark web vendor to distribute fake Xanax® pills, as well as illegal controlled substances and real prescription drugs. 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. Buyers purchased these pills on the “Dark Web,” a part of the Internet where users seek to hide their identities and locations and which is often used to traffic contraband, including illegal controlled substances and counterfeit prescription drugs.

          “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.”

          “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.”

          Counterfeit pills are fake medications that have different ingredients than the actual medication. They may contain no active ingredient, the wrong active ingredient, or have the right ingredient but in an incorrect quantity. Counterfeit pills may contain lethal amounts of fentanyl or methamphetamine and are extremely dangerous because they often appear identical to legitimate prescription pills, and the user is likely unaware of what the pills contain.

          For more information on counterfeit pills and they dangers they pose, see this Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Fact Sheet and the DEA’s One Pill Can Kill website,

          In addition to the charge for selling counterfeit drugs, the federal grand jury’s four-count indictment, attached to this press release, also charges Miller 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. 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.

          The charges in the indictment are merely accusations and are not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. The government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

          The case was investigated by the DEA and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Carowan. 


Updated May 29, 2024

Prescription Drugs