LOS ANGELES– Capping a year-long investigation, special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration have arrested four Southland men on federal narcotics and money laundering charges related to an operation in which they allegedly imported a powerful synthetic opiate from China and produced their own pills that were then distributed in bulk.
In addition to the arrests yesterday, DEA agents uncovered a working laboratory in Baldwin Park, where they found large quantities of pill presses and variously colored powders that will be tested to determine their chemical compositions.
A criminal complaint unsealed yesterday afternoon charges the four defendants with participating in a ring that imported acetyl-fentanyl, an analogue (meaning it is very similar) to the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Acetyl-fentanyl – which is sometimes called “fake heroin,” even though it is significantly more potent that heroin – is not approved for any use in the United States.
“So-called ‘designer drugs' may seem to have a similar effect as traditional narcotics, but these back-alley laboratory concoctions are very dangerous,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “They have caused many deaths in the United States, and this abuse led the DEA to put it on a list of the most dangerous and easily abused drugs in our country.”
As part of the investigation discussed in the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, authorities in January seized narcotics – including acetyl-fentanyl pills, methamphetamine, Xanax, hydrocodone pills and “ecstasy” – from a man who has just purchased the drugs from members of the drug trafficking organization.
“Fentanyl and its analogues pose a serious public health risk. Even small doses absorbed through the skin or accidently inhaled can be fatal,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge David Downing. “The DEA will continue to aggressively target individuals and organizations involved in the illicit manufacture and distribution of these toxic substances.”
During the execution of a search warrant last June, agents seized pill presses and 13 kilograms of acetyl-fentanyl from a manufacturing facility allegedly operated by the group.
The four men arrested today are:
· Gary Resnik, 31, of Long Beach;
· Joseph Stanley, 30, of Huntington Beach;
· Christopher Bowen, 30, of downtown Los Angeles; and
· Dylan Simpson, 25, of Fountain Valley
All four defendants made their initial court appearances yesterday afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles. All four were ordered detained pending detention hearings scheduled for tomorrow. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned in this case on April 4.
The criminal complaint charges the four defendants with conspiracy to distribute narcotics, possession of fentanyl and methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, conspiracy to launder money, and money laundering. Were they to be convicted of these charges, each defendant would face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
USAO – California, Central
Drug Trafficking Updated March 17, 2016
Central District of California DOJ / 16-050 / March 17, 2016