PROVIDENCE — Field agents in Rhode Island seized approximately 660,500 meth pills, which is believed to be the single largest seizure of counterfeit Adderall pills containing methamphetamine in the country, US Attorney Zachary A. Cunha announced Monday.
By weight, that’s about 660 pounds of pills, which is the same weight as a V8 car engine or a baby grand piano, Cunha said. They are sold for about $7 each on the street, with an estimated street value of approximately $4.6 million in total.
Dylan Rodas, 27, of Cumberland, will be charged with possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. A plea agreement in which Rodas pleaded guilty was filed in federal district court in Providence on Monday morning. A court date had not been set. The minimum sentence is at least 10 years in prison.
Rodas’ arrest stems from an ongoing and extensive investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration. In late March, DEA agents executed federal search warrants at two locations in Cumberland, which is when these fake Adderall pills were seized. Cunha said that a bucket containing an additional 40 pounds of methamphetamine mixture was prepped and ready to be pressed into pill form by two motorized pill presses.
These machines can press about 10,000 pills per hour, according to DEA New England Field Division Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle.
“The Mexican cartels are producing meth at record rates,” said Boyle. He said Rodas is believed to be a lower-level distributor in a Mexican cartel and that the confiscated meth came from Mexico.
DEA field agents also found approximately 1,500 pills containing fentanyl, 11 kilograms of methamphetamine powder, $15,000 in cash, and 250 grams of crack cocaine. Cunha said agents also found seven handguns, including two “ghost guns” and two guns with obliterated serial numbers.
“It is no secret that Rhode Island, and New England at large, is suffering from an epidemic of opioid abuse and opioid deaths that continues to run into record numbers,” said Cunha at his office at One Financial Plaza in Providence during a news conference. “The fact of the matter is that over 100,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses in the past year.”
Across the United States, about 64 percent of those deaths were from opioids and about 28 percent were from psychostimulants, which is predominantly meth, Cunha said. In Rhode Island, about 435 deaths were due to overdoses during 2021 alone, according to data from the state health department.
Cunha said Rodas did not have a federal criminal history but does have prior state charges. According to court records, Rodas was charged with burglary related to an armed home invasion in Cumberland when he was 18.
Cunha said this is an ongoing investigation, and he could not comment on the specifics as to whether they were looking to make additional arrests. Cunha declined to comment as to how investigators became aware of Rodas, but said these pills were meant to be distributed “throughout New England.”
A plea agreement filed Monday describes a confidential source working with the DEA to purchase methamphetamine in March 2022 from Rodas at the direction and supervision of the DEA. The source had already provided information to the DEA that Rodas was a supplier of counterfeit Adderall pills, which contained methamphetamine, stating that Rodas produced and sold “thousands” of these pills and often gave them to this source without charge with a promise to pay in the future.
This case “is a stark reminder that we cannot be complacent. We cannot treat meth as a problem that happens elsewhere,” said Cunha. He said pills that contain drugs like methamphetamine or fetanyl don’t come stamped with a label. “If you, or a loved one, are buying or taking pills off the street, or from a friend, or from anywhere that is not a pharmacy or a physician, the odds are that it’s not what you think.
“And if whatever you get is laced with fetanyl, that pill may be the last thing you take — that’s not a hyperbole,” said Cunha. “It’s a grim truth.”
Alexa Gagosz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.