By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) – The United States Attorney announced arrests Wednesday in a major counterfeit pill operation that has allegedly been supplying people on the North Shore with dangerous drugs.

Investigators said the suspects’ own social media use helped lead to their arrests.

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Vincent Caruso, Ernest Johnson, Laurie Caruso, and Nicole Benton are all charged with manufacturing and distributing drugs, money laundering and illegal possession of firearms. They are charged with supplying counterfeit prescription pills sold as “Percocet” that contained deadly levels of fentanyl.

Acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Mendell said the suspects’ social media use made for very strong evidence against them.

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Mendell said the suspects posted and sent photos of guns, bricks of fentanyl and thousands of counterfeit fentanyl pills.

Prosecutors also said there was a music video on YouTube showing the suspects brandishing hand guns.

“These guns were not just props for music videos. They were used as part of the crimes alleged,” Mendell said.

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The Massachusetts Department of Health said in 2020 there were almost 1,900 opioid-related overdose deaths where toxicology screening was available. Among those deaths, fentanyl was present in 92% of those deaths. Staff