Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

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By the Department of Justice

Federal authorities [Tuesday] held a news conference to inform the public of their ongoing efforts to stem the widespread damage caused by fentanyl, the extremely dangerous synthetic opioid that has contaminated nearly every corner of the illicit drug market and is killing Americans at an unprecedented level.

Federal law enforcement has ongoing efforts to eliminate organizations that are mass-producing fake pills containing fentanyl that are sold on the darknet and through dealers openly operating on social media sites. Other active programs in the Southern California region target street-level dealers who sell products that lead to fatal fentanyl poisonings, as well as those trafficking wholesale quantities of bulk fentanyl and counterfeit pharmaceutical pills produced by drug cartels.

United States Attorney Martin Estrada, DEA Special Agent in Charge Bill Bodner, FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Gilhooly, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Acting Special Agent in Charge Eddy Wang, and United States Postal Inspection Service Assistant Inspector in Charge Larry Hirose today outlined these enforcement initiatives and highlighted specific cases that demonstrate the severe danger fentanyl poses to public health, as well as the consequences criminals face by putting their customers’ lives at risk. These officials also outlined significant public outreach and education efforts, such as the “One Pill Can Kill” campaign.

“The fentanyl epidemic is a crisis that demands our full attention,” U.S. Attorney Estrada said. “This poison is targeting our young people, causing untold damage to families, neighborhoods, and our entire nation. We are fighting back. We have dramatically ramped up our efforts to stem the flow of narcotics, to vigorously prosecute those directly responsible for peddling this poison, and to respond in innovative ways to improve public safety and educate the public.”

“Violent drug cartels, specifically the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel, are deliberately pushing deadly fentanyl into our communities with complete disregard for human lives in an effort to maximize their profits,” said DEA Los Angeles Special Agent in Charge Bill Bodner. “Drug poisonings and drug-caused deaths are affecting families across the nation and killing Americans, teens and adults, at historic rates. We are targeting any individual responsible in the drug supply chain – from high-level drug traffickers to street level dealers – who deceptively sell this poison and create further addiction.”

Officials today announced that on Friday, November 18, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging a Cerritos man with heading an organization that obtained bulk fentanyl, operated labs in Inglewood and Compton that used high-speed pill presses to create fake pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine, and sold millions of pills to thousands of customers on the darknet. Christopher Hampton, 36, was named in an 11-count indictment that charges him with various narcotics and weapons offenses that could result in a sentence of life in federal prison.

Hampton – who was active on at least nine darknet marketplaces, where he typically used the moniker “Narco710” – was arrested on November 2, at which time agents with the FBI, DEA, HSI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with U.S. Postal Inspectors, executed search warrants. Those searches led to the discovery and seizure of 450 pounds of suspected narcotics; six pill press machines, some of which were capable of producing thousands of pills per hour; and illegal firearms that included assault rifles and a suspected machine gun. Agents also recovered from Hampton’s residence more than 20,000 multi-colored pills containing fentanyl – so-called “skittles” manufactured to resemble oxycodone pills.

The indictment alleges that Hampton sold nearly $2 million worth of narcotics on just two darknet marketplaces that he and his co-conspirators controlled.

The investigation into Hampton was conducted by the FBI-led Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement Team (J-CODE) and the DEA HIDTA Tactical Diversion Squad. J-CODE targets darknet vendors by using sophisticated, high-tech techniques to identify drug traffickers who wrongly believe the dark web allows them to engage in criminal conduct with anonymity.

Assistant United States Attorneys Ian Yanniello of the General Crimes Section and James A. Santiago of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section are prosecuting this case.

Hampton, who is being held without bond, is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment Wednesday in United States District Court.

“Every parent and guardian must educate themselves and their children of all ages about poisonous fentanyl-laced drugs being sold on social media applications and via the darknet,” said Don Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The FBI and our partners operate the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement Team (J-CODE) to disrupt and dismantle illicit marketplaces facilitating the distribution of fentanyl and other opioids on the Darknet. Since its inception, J-CODE efforts have led to the arrests over 300 darknet drug traffickers and the seizure of $42 million and 800 kilograms of narcotics, as well as 145 firearms. These enforcement efforts, as well as educating buyers, will have an impact on this scourge to society which is taking lives in unprecedented numbers.”

Another important facet of the response to the fentanyl epidemic is the ongoing efforts of the Overdose Justice Task Force, a DEA-led project designed to investigate fatal fentanyl poisonings and identify the dealer who sold the drugs that caused the death. Under the Overdose Justice program for the DEA’s Los Angeles Field Division, DEA agents collaborate with local law enforcement to analyze evidence to determine if there are circumstances that might lead to a federal criminal prosecution, and, if so, target the drug trafficker.

Since the project’s launch about four years ago, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed charges against 51 defendants who allegedly sold drugs that resulted in a fatal poisoning. Nearly all of these cases involve fentanyl, and some of the cases involve multiple deaths, including two pending cases filed earlier this yearin Santa Ana.

In court documents filed earlier this month, Jason Amin Soheili, 27, of Laguna Hills, agreed to plead guilty to two counts of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death. Soheili, who is expected to formally enter his guilty pleas early next month, has agreed to serve a federal prison sentence of at least 20 years.

Soheili has been in custody since May 2021, when he was arrested on charges alleging he mailed at least two fake oxycodone pills containing fentanyl to a man in Fillmore, Utah. That victim died on February 21, 2021. Only five weeks later, Soheili provided cocaine laced with fentanyl to another victim who died of fentanyl poisoning in his bedroom at his parents’ home in Aliso Viejo.

Assistant United States Attorney Kristin N. Spencer of the Santa Ana Branch Office is prosecuting this case, which was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

“It is our duty as postal inspectors to go after those individuals who attempt to ship through the U.S. mail illicit drugs like fentanyl or the components used to manufacture them,” said Assistant Inspector in Charge Hirose. “We remain steadfast in our resolve to seek justice to the end and to keep communities safe. This goal is achieved through collaborative investigative efforts with other law enforcement agencies.”

Other pending cases brought as a result of the Overdose Justice project include one against Jonathan Limas-Reyes, a 26-year-old Downey man, whom DEA agents arrested in August on a charge of selling fake pills containing fentanyl to a 17-year-old high school student who suffered a fatal poisoning. The Downey Police Department provided significant assistance in this matter. The trial in this case, which is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David W. Williams of the General Crimes Section, is scheduled for June 6, 2023.

Federal authorities continue to use traditional law enforcement techniques to interdict dangerous narcotics being transported and delivered in wholesale quantities. There are numerous ongoing investigations targeting large-scale operations trafficking fentanyl, most of which is produced by Mexico-based drug cartels that are marketing fentanyl in ever-increasing quantities.

“With Los Angeles’ close proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, it has become one of the largest fentanyl distribution hubs,” said HSI Los Angeles Acting Special Agent in Charge Eddy Wang. “As such, HSI Los Angeles has prioritized the targeting of fentanyl traffickers and will work tirelessly with our federal, state, local, and international partners to remove this deadly poison from our streets.”

During 2022, law enforcement officials have seized massive shipments of both bulk fentanyl and fentanyl-laced fake pills. In July, in an operation in Inglewood, authorities seized a shipment of nearly 1 million fake pills containing fentanyl. This matter is the subject of an ongoing investigation.

In late October, after several months of discussing a potential transaction involving 2 million fentanyl-laced pills, DEA agents working with investigators from the Hawthorne Police Department, conducted an operation in which they seized more than 800,000 fake pills containing fentanyl. The person who delivered that shipment – George Ramirez, 34, of San Diego – was taken into custody on October 28, and he is currently being held without bond on charges of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.

The Fullerton Police Department and the Hawthorne Police Department provided significant assistance during the investigation into Ramirez.

The case against Ramirez is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Afia Bondero and Alix McKenna of the General Crimes Section.

In relation to all of the pending cases noted above, indictments and criminal complaints contain allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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CoastWatch Nov 25, 2022 09:10 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

Ummm, I'm not in law enforcement, but MAYBE , just maybe , if you stem the tide of where the drugs are flowing in, your seach area doesn't have to be so broad... There's this known area of the Southern United States called the Southern Mexican border where just about all the Fentanyl in coming in...

Alexblue Nov 26, 2022 09:01 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

When will people learn that you can never stop a drug trade by going after the dealers. If the market exists they will always find a way to get the drugs here. You have to educate and treat drug users and potential dug users.

doulie Nov 26, 2022 01:51 PM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

ALEXBLUE - IMO the "drug trade" will never be stopped. Once a dealer is stopped their will be another to take their place, same with the users. For this reason the illegal manufacturer/market will also always exist. There will always be someone wanting their illegal product. Education will only stop a low percentage; the highest percentage of our population will not use/deal as they choose not to be involved in illegal activities.

liberty Nov 26, 2022 08:04 PM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

False directed at Alex Blue.

-Stop the flow
Of drugs.
-Consequential jail time for Fentanyl dealers.
-Education can help, but opioids are so addictive very hard.

Alexblue Nov 27, 2022 11:00 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

Liberty, you don' understand basic human psychology or motivations.

For every dealer you arrest or lab you shut down another or more will take their place.

Because there are millions of Americans willing to spend billions of dollars on the product. You will NEVER eradicate drug addiction, you can only decrease it by targeting the users and potential users.

AwareHuman Nov 25, 2022 10:50 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

The local police need to arrest drug dealers...which they have not been doing...personal experience with their complete disregard of the big dealer we had
Next door. ...with limp excuses. We had evidence, and still NO response! Something pathetically wrong with the narcotic,/detective division. The local property owner was forced to hire a private detective.. who was immediately successful. Not what you'd expect or assume, especially when the lead detective for the city is gifted a yearly salary of $110,000!

CoastWatch Nov 25, 2022 11:13 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

It's not the Police, they can arrest any and all drug dealers. it's the D.A.'s who don't prosecute... What's the point of the PD arresting and paying booking fees to the County, if the dealer is immediately released on no/low bail and not prosecuted...? Pointless. The D.A.'s and lax liberal laws need to change.

doulie Nov 25, 2022 11:22 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

AWAREHUMAN - Please define "successful" regarding the drug dealer you report was dealt with by a private detective. What was your "evidence" and what were the "limp excuses" offered by police?

FondofSB Nov 25, 2022 07:32 PM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

Interesting how they "ignore" the most potent and simplest way to deal with and put an end to this national horror and disgrace and that is : CLOSE the Southern Border!
None of all those people who talked here at length about this horror have ever thought that doing the simplest thing to put an end to it is what they should DO, DISCUSS, ADVOCATE and ACT upon , right ?

Luvaduck Nov 26, 2022 06:28 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

So is someone holding people down and forcing them to take this stuff? How about stepping up information on this stuff the same ways commercial marketing uses.

snicker Nov 27, 2022 09:42 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

Clowns don't know how addiction works! (And how evil greedy clowns take advantage of it.)

I realize this is not from one of the clown-approved news sources, but even clowns can learn something new!

https://www.npr.org/2022/08/15/1117535630/harm-reduction-the-opioid-crisis

https://www.npr.org/2022/08/01/1114976349/how-the-opioid-industry-operated-like-a-cartel

Mebk Nov 26, 2022 06:43 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

Southern boarder wide open. China and cartels getting very rich, and DA not doing their jobs.on top of no bail.and the person who was assigned to border protection is aworthless .

FondofSB Nov 26, 2022 09:52 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

Alex : That's why there are FOUR TIMES MORE illegal crossings than 2 years ago, right !
Pathetic to be that trolling and sycophanting !
Open your EYES !

CoastWatch Nov 26, 2022 01:44 PM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

Clue in ALEX... CBP state that over 2. 5-3.5 MILLION have come across in the last 21 months... most are single male adults from Venuzuela, Hati and of course Central America. Meanwhile, we have no housing or social services to support this huge influx due to a Biden Admisistration "open border" policy that Mayorkas is responsible for. Numbers don't lie pal.

a-1669504233 Nov 26, 2022 03:10 PM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

The people here with, shall we say, somewhat less than sane opinions tend to make comments with poor spelling and grammar. In addition, they often add capitalizations to make their comments look like ransom notes. Don't make fun of them, or they may feel even more victimized, and increase their screeds.

doulie Nov 26, 2022 07:58 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

If I understand this article correctly, we are (again) being advised of actions taken on the US side of the border by federal agencies. These actions are an attempt to "stem the widespread damage" caused by fentanyl and other illegal drugs. I believe it was back in the '70's or 80's the PD had a few narcotic teams that dealt with drug users and the SO had a "narcotics task force" that primarily investigated drug dealers. In order to be able to investigate anywhere in the county, I believe each group had at least one member from the opposite agency. Information they learned was shared in order remove users/dealers from the street. Is any US agency working with narcotics investigators on the south side of the border in an attempt to stop the drugs (before) they begin moving towards the US? No doubt getting US agents to work on the south side of the border or in any country is a more complex situation but I seldom read this might be happening. How often do we read that thousands of pills/ pounds of any drug were confiscated during an investigation in (fill in the country)?

snicker Nov 27, 2022 09:31 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

"I seldom read"

Ah, the problem has been pinpointed!

"DEA, working in conjunction with Mexican officials, has seized and dismantled numerous fentanyl pill pressing operations and fentanyl synthesis laboratories"

Mebk Nov 26, 2022 06:37 PM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

Ale blue.google https://nypost.com/2022/08/26/border-patrol-rescues-two-migrant-babies-left-by-smugglers/
I have friends with ranches at the border you really should go down and see what they are having to deal with, I don’t think any of us would want that in our yards. This is just one incident there are many. Beaten women, hungry dehydrated people dumped there by people making way more than you and I and drugs, rape,and child trafficking. We need to all know what is happening.

Basicinfo805 Nov 26, 2022 07:08 PM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

It’s not about the border. It’s not about blaming Mexico or Central American countries. It’s about demand. It’s about us, OUR citizens, and especially our kids and young people. Lose the demand, lose the problem.

FondofSB Nov 26, 2022 09:03 PM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

Basic : A closed border would DRY UP the demand !
No supply, no demand ! As simple as that, but just keep covering this deleterious "border policy" ! and it isn't JUST dope : it's the rapes, the human trafficking, the drowning crossing the river and all the criminals coming unbeknownst in the country ! Just ask the border patrol that NO ONE in this failing gvt ever asks about, nor do you !

doulie Nov 26, 2022 09:41 PM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

FONDOFSB - Closing the border won't eliminate the drug demand but might minimize the supply which will simply increase the price(s) for the drugs. Closing the border could stop significant numbers of people being trafficked and sex crime violations.

snicker Nov 27, 2022 09:26 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

"supply drives demand" is what clowns learn in Clown Car 101!

Meanwhile, in the real world outside the Big Top, demand drives up prices which increases the number of suppliers and the risks people are willing to take to supply the demand. Fentanyl is made in the U.S. from precursors made mostly in China, India, and Mexico that are smuggled in by air and across the Canadian and Mexican borders, mostly through well guarded ports of entry. Who does most of that smuggling? Americans! Who pays off the border guards when necessary? Americans! Who are the border guards? Americans! Who thinks that the border is a door that can be shut to keep out them thar brown illegals with giant sacks of fentanyl on their backs? Clowns!

snicker Nov 27, 2022 09:52 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

"Open Border! Open Border! Gotta close that open border!" the clowns shout to the crowd! Peanuts, popcorn, and fentanyl!

Meanwhile, in the real world: https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/desantis-abbott-using-open-border-myth-to-justify-moving-migrants-rcna48844

Alexblue Nov 27, 2022 10:52 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

How do you not understand that it's impossible to "close a border".

You can throw a lot of money and people and infrastructure at further constricting the flow of people and drugs across a border, but you will never be able to close it.

Alexblue Nov 27, 2022 10:56 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

FONDOFSB--

You re 100% wrong. As supply tightens up demand INCREASES.

Did you try to buy a car or an appliance during the global supply chain slow down during Covid?

How much were prices being marked up? 20%? 100%?

Yeah. Keep tightening up supply and cartels will simply pay their mules and couriers more money and put them under greater pressure to move the product.

Is it possible to reduce the human migration and trafficking across the border? Of course. Because you CAN'T MAKE NEARLY AS MUCH MONEY SMUGGLING HUMANS AS YOU CAN SMUGGLING DRUGS.

You might make a couple of grand smuggle a 180 pound human across the border. You can make hundreds of thousands of dollars smuggling 180 pounds of fentanyl.

Really, try and think this stuff through.

FondofSB Nov 26, 2022 09:07 PM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

Hey ! Why does anyone worry : Kamala and Mayorkas keep telling, with a "straight face" that "The border is SECURE, the border is SECURE" !
Ever heard more liars than that ?

snicker Nov 27, 2022 09:03 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

Mexico's gonna pay for it!

One of 33,000 lies from that clown while he was in office!

And all the ones from you clowns who have no idea how borders or anything else works! Most of those drugs are smuggled in through well guarded ports of entry, Clarabelle!

doulie Nov 27, 2022 10:57 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

SNICKER - You hurt my feelings when your statement to all, which includes me, infers I am a "clown." Please stop. Direct me to the site that identifies 33k lies you refer to relative to Trump while he was in office. I'm confident this was sarcasm on your part, but, if not, I'd like to read the documentation. Also, relative to your comment you appear to believe you know more than others as to "how borders or anything else works." I thought I had a good grasp on how CBP & DHS operate but maybe I missed something. What is your expertise/background relative to this topic leading you to believe you know more than others? Pray tell, who is "Clarabelle?"

a-1669627549 Nov 28, 2022 01:25 AM
Federal Law Enforcement Targets Fentanyl Dealers

Doulie, re: lies, search "list trump lies"
The Washington Post won awards for their fact-checking:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/01/24/trumps-false-or-misleading-claims-total-30573-over-four-years/

"Read our full report on the database.
See the pace of Trump’s false claims in this amazing visual graphic.
Visit the Trump claims database website and explore it. The database has an extremely fast search engine that will quickly locate suspect statements made by Trump. Readers can also isolate claims by time period, subject or venue.
The fact checks in the database amount to about 5 million words and many include links to sources that debunk Trump’s statements."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-claims-database/?itid=lk_inline_manual_11

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-fact-checker-tracked-trump-claims/2021/01/23/ad04b69a-5c1d-11eb-a976-bad6431e03e2_story.html

https://www.niemanlab.org/reading/the-longer-trump-was-president-the-more-frequently-he-made-false-or-misleading-claims/

See also Daniel Dale on Twitter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Dale

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