Darknet Dealers Caught for Shipping 500,000 Pills
In December, authorities arrested two California men for their participation in a massive opioid trafficking conspiracy that spanned the United States. The defendants, Andrew Tablack, a 26-year-old from Beverly Hills, California, and Stephan Durham, a 43-year-old from Altadena, California, allegedly shipped cyclopropyl fentanyl pills across the United States. Authorities claimed that the men operated a darknet market vendor account and shipped pills to their customers.
The men shipped one package to an address in Monmouth County, New Jersey, in September that contained 226,520 cyclopropyl fentanyl pills. According to the Office of the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, the men shipped a total of 500,000 pills to the New Jersey address. They appeared in Los Angeles federal court on conspiracy to distribute cyclopropyl fentanyl and possession with intent to distribute at least 400 grams of cyclopropyl fentanyl.
Prosecutors accused the men of owning and operating a pill production facility in a California warehouse. Investigators uncovered shipping records proving that Tablack had ordered nine pill presses to an industrial building in California. Records revealed that a business owned by Durham leased the industrial building where the partners operated the pill presses.
Prosecutors said that during the summer, the California traffickers mailed a package of 300,000 cyclopropyl fentanyl pills to a Monmouth County address. The DEA seized the package during a raid on the Monmouth County residence. One month later, the dealers allegedly mailed a second package. The second shipment contained fewer pills (226,520 cyclopropyl fentanyl pills), but weighing 44 pounds. This time, likely with assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service, the DEA intercepted the package prior to the package’s arrival. The dealers had shipped it to the same address.
During the investigation into the California duo, authorities managed to intercept several incriminating packages that belonged to Tablack or Durham. They intercepted fentanyl disguised as food and beauty products. They also seized various parts needed for pill production, such as die casts, dyes, and powders.
In November, a spokesperson from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said police officers had seized blue carfentanil and cyclopropyl fentanyl pills while conducting an investigation at Holmdel and Long Branch. The pills looked like oxycodone pills, the officers said. A spokesperson confirmed the pills matched those from the California dealers, but did not go into further detail. Tablack and Durham allegedly sold on the darknet and conducted transactions with Bitcoin, but the quantity of the pills shipped indicated that they may have been participating in a drug trafficking organization much larger than two guys and some small-scale resellers.
No further arrests have been made at this time.