Christopher Bantli pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court for
the District of Columbia to a conspiracy to import fentanyl into the
United States, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski
of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in
Charge Adolphus P. Wright of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s
(DEA) Miami Field Division.
Bantli, 39, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman
Jackson for the District of Columbia. Bantli had been extradited to the
United States from Canada following his indictment in the District of
Columbia. According to court records, beginning in or around Nov. 2015
and continuing through Sept. 8, 2016, Bantli advertised, distributed,
and imported controlled substances, including powerful fentanyl
analogues and synthetic opiates, through the encrypted website AlphaBay.
Bantli accepted virtual currency such as Bitcoin as payment for the
illegal substances, and used Canadian and U.S. mail to distribute the
illicit substances to consumers. To assist with his distribution
enterprise, Bantli used his apartment in Calgary, Canada, as a drug
laboratory and de facto fulfillment center for the orders placed on his
AlphaBay profile. Bantli’s apartment contained a pill press, packaging,
cutting agents, as well as the controlled substances themselves.
Bantli will be sentenced on May 29 before Judge Berman Jackson.
The case was investigated by the DEA, in cooperation with Canadian
law enforcement authorities. The U.S. Marshals Service provided
critical assistance in Bantli’s extradition. The U.S. Department of
Justice thanks the Government of Canada for its assistance in this case,
in particular the Calgary Police Service Cybercrime Support Team. This
case is also the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime
Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), a partnership that brings
together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state,
and local enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF
program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute high-level
members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering
organizations and enterprises.
Trial Attorneys Anthony Aminoff and Kaitlin Sahni of the Criminal
Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS) are prosecuting
the case. Trial Attorney Brian Nicholson of the Department of Justice’s
Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in
bringing Bantli to the United States and procuring foreign evidence
during the investigation.