Canton man sentenced in fentanyl counterfeit pill case


A Canton man received an 11-year sentence after he pleaded guilty for his role in the distribution of more than 380 counterfeit pharmaceutical pills containing fentanyl.

Justin Romello Williams, 26, of Canton, pleaded guilty in Circuit Court on May 17 to one count of conspiracy, two counts of trafficking in controlled substances and four counts of selling drugs.

He was later sentenced to 11 years to serve in the Mississippi Department of Corrections for his part in a scheme to distribute more than 380 pills containing fentanyl, a schedule II controlled substance, District Attorney Bubba Bramlett announced Thursday.

He said the 11 years in custody will be spent day for day without the possibility of parole or early release.

“Our law enforcement in Madison and Rankin counties should be commended for their tireless efforts in ridding our communities of this deadly drug,” Bramlett said. “In this particular case, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department kept almost 400 potentially deadly pills off the streets and out of the hands of our young people.”

Bramlett said counterfeit pain pills are causing significant overdose deaths in Mississippi. These pills often contain fentanyl, an opioid that is said to be 100 times more potent than morphine. Bramlett said the pills can look identical to medications such as hydrocodone, oxycodone or Xanax and these counterfeit versions often contain fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is not to be experimented with...the first time may be the end,” Bramlett said. “Fentanyl does not forgive — one pill can kill. Each time an individual takes a pill that did not come from their doctor or pharmacy, he or she is playing Russian Roulette, plain and simple.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 80,000 people died of a drug overdose in the United States from June 2019 through May 2020. And more than 70% of those deaths involved a synthetic opioid.

Authorities warn that fatal overdoses are “common” with counterfeit opioids as the amount of fentanyl required to make someone overdose is as little as a few grains of salt.

“Please educate your teenagers and young adult children of the dangers of counterfeit pills,” Bramlett said. “Overdose victims often are not prior drug abusers...some are simply offered the deadly pill at a party or other similar venue, and unfortunately, they do not survive.”

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