Drug Enforcement Administration

San Francisco

Christopher Nielsen, Special Agent in Charge

February 08, 2019

Contact: Casey Rettig

Phone Number: (415) 436-7994

Vallejo couple charged in pill manufacturing operation at elder care facility

Tablets marked with Tesla emblem, Kool-Aid smiling pitcher and other shapes

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — United States Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Chris Nielsen announced that Henry Benson, 37, and Roselle Cipriano, 36, both of Vallejo, were arrested yesterday at their business, the Genesis Care Home for the Elderly in Vallejo, Calif. 

The DEA Sacramento District Office began this investigation in late 2017 when they learned of a suspected counterfeit tableting operation in the Vallejo area. According to court documents, multiple undercover purchases of thousands of tablets were conducted during the investigation. The tablets varied in color and markings to include: yellow tablets bearing a Kool-Aid form (smiling pitcher), yellow tablets embossed with the likeness of President Donald J. Trump and the word “Trump” stamped on the back, yellow tablets with the Tesla emblem, and blue minion-shaped tablets. Counterfeit alprazolam tablets were also purchased by investigators. Laboratory results on tested pills indicate the presence of methamphetamine.

As the case progressed, agents identified Benson and Cipriano, a married couple, as the suspected source of supply of the pills, with an associated address on Lewis Avenue in Vallejo, Calif. Agents learned that Genesis Care Home for the Elderly was being operated at that address, and business records identify Cipriano as the owner.

On Feb. 7, 2019, DEA, with assistance from the Vallejo Police Department, served a federal search warrant at the residence of Benson and Cipriano, which is also the Genesis Care Home for the Elderly. As a result of the search, agents seized approximately 31 pounds of tablets containing suspected methamphetamine, approximately 17 pounds of suspected methamphetamine, one shotgun, and a pill press.      

Benson and Cipriano were arrested at the location on federal charges of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine and manufacture and distribution of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine. Benson and Cipriano had their initial appearance in Sacramento Federal Court on Feb. 7, 2019, and they are scheduled for a detention hearing today in Sacramento Federal Court. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Genesis Care Home for the Elderly remains open, and residents were left in the care of medical staff.

This case is the product of an investigation by the DEA and the Vallejo Police Department, with assistance from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. The OCDETF program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

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