Dark Web Trafficker Convicted of Drug Importation Conspiracy
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.