April 5, 2021
BATH, NY – From Steuben County Spokesperson Mary Perham And Sheriff Jim Allard:
On the heels of a recent NBC News report, the Steuben Prevention Coalition Opioid Committee (SPCOC)
and Steuben County Sheriff Jim Allard warned parents and residents in Steuben about the uptick in sales
on social media of sales of counterfeit pills containing the deadly fentanyl.
“Could there be a pill mill or a pill dealer in your neighborhood?” asked Connie Terry, SPCOC program
coordinator. “Absolutely. During 2019, an investigation of a large-scale counterfeit pill manufacturing
and drug trafficking organization in the Twin Tiers resulted in 13 arrests and convictions with the
ringleader receiving a 23-year Federal Prison sentence. There’s no reason to believe it all went away.”
Allard said the Robert Ian Thatcher 31, of Elmira pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Rochester
to conspiracy to possess and to distribute U-47700, along with 100 grams or more of furanyl fentanyl.
Thatcher’s operation was linked to at least two overdose deaths, prosecutors said. The opioid pills were
manufactured at homes in Sayre, Pennsylvania, and Catlin, Chemung County, and then sold around the
Elmira and Corning areas.
Thatcher used eBay to purchase tableting machines and other components to make the opioid pills. He
and a co-defendant, Maximillian Sams, also imported bulk amounts of furanyl fentanyl and U-47700 from
The county Sheriff’s Department partners with federal Drug Enforcement Administration investigations
because the federal penalties are more severe.
Fake pills that look identical to the prescription pharmaceuticals, such as the opioid Hydrocodone, the
stimulant Adderall, and the sedative Xanax, now contain fentanyl and are readily available online and
through the social media outlets, Terry said.
Steuben sheriff/Opioid Committee warn of deadly drugs readily available on social media Fentanyl is an illegal and uncontrolled synthetic opioid 100 times more potent than morphine, with a lethal dose amounting to two milligrams, the equivalent to a few grains of sand, she said. In 2019, the DEA estimated that 27 percent of all counterfeit pills contain fentanyl, posing an alarming risk of overdose and death. Unfortunately, they are cheap and easy to produce. “Parents need to be vigilant about their teenager’s cyber lives,” Allard said. “There are so many pitfalls for young impressionable youth, especially now when the pandemic has isolated them and restricted so many of their normal activities. Friendships can develop quickly with no guarantee the other friend is not a predator.” Terry said parents need to be open about the dangers and engage their teens in frank discussions about the dangers of online drugs, not just common street drugs. “Teenagers tend to think prescription drugs are safer,” she said. “Not so. Check your teen’s use of social media apps often and warn them about the potential dangers of fake pills. Stay involved in your child’s life even when they resist.”