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Counterfeit pain pills likely came to Prince illegally

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But exactly how Prince obtained the drugs is still unknown, four months after he collapsed in an elevator on April 21 and died of an accidental fentanyl overdose. Authorities have so far revealed little about their investigation, saying it's active and moving forward.

"When you have weird stamped pills in aspirin bottles, sometimes things are what they seem, which is illegally obtained controlled substances," Tamburino said. "How he got them? Who knows."

Fentanyl has been responsible for a surge in overdose deaths in some parts of the country. When made into counterfeit pills, users don't always know they're taking fentanyl, increasing the risk of fatal overdose.

If someone gave Prince the drug that killed him, that person could face a third-degree murder charge, punishable in the state of Minnesota by more than 12 years in prison, Tamburino said.

In addition, any illegal operation that involved making and dealing fentanyl could open many people up to a host of drug charges, from trafficking to conspiracy. Because the sale resulted in Prince's death, it would increase the chances that someone could get the maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted, Turner said.


"There's a big, big black market for counterfeit drugs. When people buy these, they don't personally know, many times, that they are not the real thing, and that's when you get overdoses," Pissetzky said.

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