Tennessee law enforcement uncovered a massive cache of pressed ‘Xanax’ pills and alprazolam powder while executing arrest warrants at two locations in Rutherford County. According to a statement from local authorities, the suspects had nearly 60,000 fake Xanax pills and one pound of pure alprazolam—the active ingredient in Xanax. The police valued the pills and powder at 1.3 million dollars.
The investigation that led to the discovery began in January 2018. A United States Postal Inspector spotted a pattern of suspicious packages shipped from a Post Office in Murfreesboro to addresses across the United States. Soon after identifying the stream of suspicious packages, the Postal Inspector alerted Rutherford County Sheriff’s detectives.
The announcement only mentioned assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). According to the announcement, the Postal Inspector sent his or her findings to Rutherford County Narcotics Detective Mike Hoekstra. From there, Hoekstra conducted his own investigation and eventually zeroed in on 25-year-old Joseph Davis and 29-year-old Erica Dotson as the senders of the suspicious packages.
If what Rutherford police told the press matched the actual investigation timeline, authorities had not opened any of the packages until after Detective Hoekstra had identified Davis and Dotson as potential suspects. In February, though, the Postal Inspector intercepted an unknown number of packages after the suspected drug dealers had dropped off an unknown number of USPS mailers.
After seizing the packages, the Postal Inspector obtained a federal search warrant that allowed him or her to open and search the packages. At this point in the investigation, Detective Hoekstra and the Postal Inspector worked alongside investigators from the state’s Tactical Diversion Squad, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The packages they seized contained 8,300 “doses of Xanax.” Authorities claimed the combined value of the pressed Xanax bars totalled $41,000.
U.S. Postal Inspector David M. McGinnis said, in a press release, that “this [case] is a great example of how law enforcement partnerships work together to keep communities safe from criminal activity. Together we will continue to be vigilant in disrupting criminal organizations who illegally utilize the U.S. Postal Service.”
The Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit, DEA agents, USPIS Inspectors, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents, and FDA officers raided two Rutherford County homes. They found 58,000 counterfeit Xanax pills and more than a pound of pure alprazolam powder. For reasons unknown, the police needed the FDA to make the call regarding the legitimacy of the counterfeit Xanax pills. Even with the pound of alprazolam powder found at the scene, the police thought the pressed Xanax pills could have been genuine pharmaceutical ones. Unsurprisingly, the FDA confirmed that the pills were counterfeits.
Authorities charged Davis and Dotson with possession of Schedule 4 substances and maintaining a dwelling for the purpose of distributing drugs. Davis, already a convicted felon, had a pistol in his possession and caught an additional charge for possessing a weapon as a felon. They are being held on $100,000 and $75,000 bonds, respectively.