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Michigan man charged with selling fake Xanax, other drugs on dark web, officials say

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(CBS DETROIT) - A Michigan man faces up to 20 years in prison for allegedly selling fake Xanax pills and other counterfeit drugs on the dark web. 

Erik Miller, 47, of Sturgis, was charged with selling counterfeit drugs, conspiracy to distribute Xanax and MDMA, possession of MDMA and methamphetamine with intent to distribute and felon in possession of firearms. 

According to an indictment, Miller was working with a dark web vendor to distribute illegal controlled substances, real prescription drugs, and fake Xanax pills that were made to look like the authentic pills manufactured by Pharmacia & Upjohn, Co., a division of Pfizer.

Fake drugs could have no active ingredient, be the wrong active ingredient, or may have the right ingredient but the incorrect quantity. They also could contain deadly amounts of fentanyl or methamphetamine, which officials say is especially dangerous because, most of the time, these pills look exactly the same as regular prescription pills. 

"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."  

Officials say people purchased these pills on the dark web, which is an area of the Internet that is often used to traffic fake drugs and contraband and also where dealers try to hide their identities. 

"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."  

If Miller is convicted of the drug trafficking charges, he faces a $1,000,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison. 

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