According to U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick, a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation led to the arrest and indictment of two California men for their role in a large-scale fentanyl trafficking ring. The operation resulted in the distribution of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs across the United States.
The investigation began last year in August when the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) executed a search warrant at a residence in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Court records did not reveal any details that covered events prior to the execution of the search warrant. However, during the search of the house, investigators found approximately 300,000 cyclopropyl fentanyl pills. The DEA did not publicly identify the owner of the house or the owner’s connection to the recently indicted California men. However, the DEA reported that the pills had allegedly originated from an address in California owned by one of the suspects.
The suspects—a 26-year-old from Beverly Hills named Andrew Tablack and a 43-year-old from Altadena named Stephen Durham—had allegedly been shipping massive quantities of fentanyl analogue pills to the Monmouth address. The announcement From US Attorney Fitzpatrick revealed that during the course of the investigation, New Jersey law enforcement and USPIS officers intercepted two packages containing 226,000 cyclopropyl fentanyl pills. The US attorney announced that 26 year old Tablack had sent the pills from an address of a clandestine pill production facility in California.
According to the details unveiled in the announcement, Tablack and Durham used the darknet to arrange deals with customers in New Jersey and possibly elsewhere. A customer (or customers) in New Jersey used the Monmouth residence as a drop spot for the fentanyl analogue shipments. Law enforcement intercepted the 226,000-pill package in September after flagging the Monmouth address.
The announcement did not reveal any information on the customers in New Jersey. Although, the quantity of the pills received indicates that personal use was not part of the equation. The customers most likely operated a large-scale distribution ring on the East Coast. The customers bought the pills on the darknet and paid with Bitcoin, the US Attorney said. Tablack, Durham, and other conspirators used encrypted messaging apps to communicate with each other. Safe options for encrypted messaging apps for mobile devices are limited. They likely used something like Signal or Wickr, although Telegram and WhatsApp have stepped up their encryption game as well.
Towards the end of the investigation, the DEA allegedly found that Tablack had allegedly used an industrial building in California that as a base of operations. Investigators also found that a company owned by Durham had allegedly leased the building for business purposes. Tablack and Durham allegedly used the building for business purposes—just not the kind of business the DEA could ignore. Investigators somehow located shipping records that connected Tablack and the industrial building to the purchase, shipment, and delivery of nine pill presses. The dealers used all nine in their operation. in addition to the pill press purchases, investigators found that the men made routine purchases to vendors in China for products described as food or beauty products.
California law enforcement allegedly intercepted several packages of Fentanyl, Fentanyl analogues, dyes required in the production of a certain kind of pill, and other materials used in pill production laboratories. Both men recently appeared in a Los Angeles court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Walsh on one count of distribution conspiracy and one count of the possession of 400 or more grams of cyclopropyl fentanyl with intent to distribute. The criminal complaint additionally charged Tablack With one count of the distribution of 400 or more grams of cyclopropyl fentanyl. The charges carry a mandatory 10-year prison sentence.
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Author: C. Aliens