Fentanyl went from China to California to Monmouth, feds say
NEWARK - Monmouth County was the reception point for a flood of fentanyl from California, according to federal agents who arrested two West Coast men accused of using the Dark Web to arrange shipment of at least 500,000 pills.
Andrew Tablack, 26, of Beverly Hills, and Stephan Durham, 43, of Altadena, each face a count of conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, 400 grams or more of cyclopropyl fentanyl, according to the office of Acting New Jersey U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick.
Convictions on the charges would mean 10 years to life in prison, and a fine as high as $10,000,000.
Tablack is additionally charged with distribution of 400 grams or more of cyclopropyl fentanyl. Their first court appearance was today in Los Angeles.
The synthetic opiate is considered to be about a hundred times more potent than heroin, and nearly always fatal when taken outside prescribed guidelines.
Authorities did not identify specific addresses, but said that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began looking into fentanyl distribution Monmouth in August of this year.
A search of a residence led to the discovery of about 300,000 pills that authorities believe were shipped by Tablack. He's accused of running a production facility in California.
Citing shipping and property records, detectives accused Tablack of buying at least nine pill press machines that were set up in an industrial building in California, leased by a company operated by Durham. Tablack allegedly bought the raw fentanyl from China, in packages marked as food and beauty products.
Agents involved in the probe intercepted several packages sent from Asia, containing fentanyl and dies to mark the tablets, to properties that Tablack and Durham controlled, authorities said.
Investigators alleged that Tablack had a nationwide client list, and conducted business on the section of the Internet known as the Dark Web, requiring specific software for access. They also asserted that Tablack used end-to-end encryption to take orders from New Jersey buyers.
Tablack's clients allegedly paid with Bitcoin and directed the mailings to various homes in the county, intercepting the packages before final delivery. Federal agents noted that the web-based, hard-to-trace Bitcoin currency is surging in use among drug dealers
Assistant U.S. ATtorney Tazneen Shahabuddin of the U.S. Attorney's General Crimes Unit in Newark leads the government's case.
The investigation involved the DEA, U.S. Department of Homeland Secuiryt, Homeland Security Investigation's divisions in Newark and Los Angeles, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.
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