America's lethal injection shame: Inside the black market propping up death row trends now
In 2018, the Director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections admitted defeat - he couldn't find any lethal injection drugs.
It had been three years since the last execution in the state, and Joe Allbaugh conceded in a press conference he had been calling 'seedy individuals' from 'all around the world - right down to the backstreets of the Indian subcontinent' - to find the necessary lethal cocktail.
But in detailing his 'mad hunt' to find the drugs, the former FEMA director inadvertently revealed a crisis that had been plaguing America's death row for years.
From basement pharmacies to expired execution drugs and agonizing deaths, an underground system is quietly propping up death rows across the nation.
Texas' Huntsville penitentiary
Issues with America's lethal injections primarily stem from a lack of willingness from pharmacies to produce the drugs used in executions. Pfizer's decision to halt use of its products in 2016 closed the last remaining open-market source of the drugs.
Yet, executions have continued, leading the Texas Department of Corrections to come under fire after extending the use-by dates of lethal injection drug pentobarbital for years.
The state denies the out-of-date cocktail makes the procedure more painful, a claim disputed by attorneys representing inmates who are continuing to be put to death with the drugs.
Fueled by a lack of pharmacies willing to produce the execution drug, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice decided to extend their stockpile's use-by dates.
Six condemned Texas inmates made headlines after launching a lawsuit against the authority last year, arguing the use of the drugs violated the US Constitution's statutes against cruel and unusual punishment.
But while the lawsuit made its way through the courts, inmates who signed onto the case, including convicted killers Wesley Ruiz, John Balentine, Gary Green, Arthur Brown Jr and Robert Fratta, have been executed by the same authority they are suing.
But long before, in 2010 it came to light that several states were sourcing their drugs from a one-man basement pharmacy dubbed 'Dream Pharma'.
When it became known that the drugs had been used by Arizona officials to execute convicted killer Jeffrey Landrigan, the London plant claimed it had no idea the drugs were going to be used for that purpose.
Jeffrey Landrigan, pictured, was executed over a decade ago in Arizona with lethal injection drugs allegedly purchased through a one-man basement lab in London
Five Texas death row inmates, including Arthur Brown Jr (left) Robert Fratta (center left) John Balentine (center right) and Gary Green (right), have been executed after joining a lawsuit against the safety of the lethal injection drugs used to kill them
Oklahoma became the first state to execute a prisoner with the drug