GREENVILLE — A Greenville County drug enforcement unit confiscated 4,000 tablets of a counterfeit version of the prescription drug Xanax on Monday.
The bust was conducted both at a Haywood Road area residence and during a related traffic stop, said Bart McEntire, commander of the Greenville County Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit.
The proliferation of counterfeit Xanax — in its real form a controlled substance prescribed by doctors to treat anxiety but also potentially addictive — is a growing problem, McEntire said.
The counterfeit version could contain dangerous black market ingredients like fentanyl and other lab-created substances that lead to deadly overdoses, according to a news release.
"Recently, DEU has seen an increase in the quantities of counterfeit Xanax throughout the county," McEntire said in the release. "This issue is dangerous because unsuspecting users believe they are purchasing Xanax when in reality they are receiving a harmful tablet containing any number of substances."
The counterfeit tablets were likely imported from overseas and repackaged for sale in the county, he said.
The investigation involved a search warrant at a residence at Livingston Terrace in Greenville and a traffic stop of a vehicle owned by the 24-year-old man arrested on unlawful weapon and drug trafficking and distribution charges.
The stop yielded 1,000 counterfeit Xanax tablets. The search warrant resulted in another 3,000 tablets, 12 grams of cocaine, promethazine syrup, which is commonly used in cold medicine and can act as a sleep aid, and a handgun.
The multi-agency drug unit was formed in 2019. It operates under the banner of a board of directors that includes heads of each jurisdictional participant: the Greenville County Sheriff's Office, 13th Circuit Solicitor's Office, Greenville County Sheriff's Office and police departments in the cities of Greenville, Travelers Rest, Greer, Fountain Inn, Simpsonville and Mauldin.
Initially funded with $102,000 in civil asset forfeiture funds, the unit employs 20 narcotics investigators and four supervisors to conduct investigations into mid- to major-level drug operations that reach outside the U.S., according to an agency report compiled this past August.