California fentanyl kingpin accused of using darknet to distribute millions of pills due in court


A 36-year-old California fentanyl kingpin, who prosecutors allege sold millions of pills on the darknet, is set to be arraigned Wednesday as part of a federal crackdown on the synthetic opioid the Justice Department says is “killing Americans at an unprecedented level.” 

Christopher Hampton, of Cerritos, was indicted by a federal grand jury last week “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,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.  

Hampton is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 23 in a Los Angeles federal court on an 11-count indictment containing narcotics and weapons offenses that – if convicted – could result in a life sentence. 

“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,” the attorney’s office said. 

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A couple of manual pill press machines used to mass-produce fake pills containing fentanyl sold on the darknet and through dealers openly operating on social media sites are displayed by the U.S. Attorney's Office Central District of California offices in Los Angeles on Nov. 21.

A couple of manual pill press machines used to mass-produce fake pills containing fentanyl sold on the darknet and through dealers openly operating on social media sites are displayed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Central District of California offices in Los Angeles on Nov. 21.
(AP/Damian Dovarganes)

“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,” the statement continued. “Agents also recovered from Hampton’s residence more than 20,000 multi-colored pills containing fentanyl – so-called ‘skittles’ manufactured to resemble oxycodone pills.” 

United States Attorney Martin Estrada, left, holds a picture of the late Daniel Puerta-Johnson, 16, a victim of Fentanyl poisoning, as his father, Jaime Puerta, president of Victims of Illicit Drugs, at the podium, joins the U.S. Attorney's Office Central District of California office to address the widespread damage caused by fentanyl in Los Angeles, on Monday, Nov. 21.

United States Attorney Martin Estrada, left, holds a picture of the late Daniel Puerta-Johnson, 16, a victim of Fentanyl poisoning, as his father, Jaime Puerta, president of Victims of Illicit Drugs, at the podium, joins the U.S. Attorney’s Office Central District of California office to address the widespread damage caused by fentanyl in Los Angeles, on Monday, Nov. 21.
(AP/Damian Dovarganes)

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Prosecutors say the indictment alleges Hampton sold nearly $2 million in narcotics on two darknet marketplaces that he and his colleagues controlled. 

A bag of rainbow-colored fentanyl pills. 

A bag of rainbow-colored fentanyl pills. 
( U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA))

“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,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office also said. “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.” 



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