The Pill Makers Next Door: How America’s Opioid Crisis Is Spreading
The married couple living in the third-floor, ocean-view apartment were friendly and ambitious.
She explored the city, posting selfies on Facebook. He started a small music label at home. “They were nice people,” said Ann McGlenon, their former landlady. “She’s very sweet. He’s a go-getter.”
Authorities say Candelaria Vazquez and Kia Zolfaghari had darker aspirations. Working from unit 6, the pair built a small enterprise making counterfeit prescription pills, the Drug Enforcement Administration says.
They designed pills to resemble legitimate oxycodone tablets, with an important, and potentially dangerous, twist, according to the DEA: Instead of oxycodone, they used the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl as a main ingredient.
Mr. Zolfaghari worked a pill-press machine in their two-bedroom, 1,100 square-foot apartment, the DEA said, where they also kept an action figure of Walter White, the protagonist of the series “Breaking Bad,” in which a high-school chemistry teacher cooks up batches of methamphetamine.
According to a DEA affidavit, the couple sold the pills to buyers around the U.S., including in Washington state and North Carolina. A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted them on June 21 on charges including conspiracy to manufacture and distribute fentanyl. Both pleaded not guilty.Comment: Left Image is from the Wall Street Journal article. See DEA article here. Right image source