A Cape Coral man was sentenced to more than two decades in prison for possessing and intending to distribute fentanyl, possessing counterfeit drugs for sale, bank fraud and more charges.
According to the Department of Justice, Brandon Albanito, 37, was sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to multiple charges from June 2023.
An investigation involving the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations began in 2016 when several packages sent to Cape Coral and North Fort Myers were intercepted.
The intercepted packages had the powder form of Viagra, tryptamine, which is a drug precursor used in manufacturing hallucinogens, and controlled substances, including methamphetamine in bulk.
As a result of the investigation, Albanito was in some way associated with each address.
The United States Secret Service began investigating Albanito’s finances and discovered several bank, crypto and gambling accounts he controlled. After investigating further, the USSS found some suspicious purchases from China-based companies. Authorities also discovered frequent money transfers displaying money laundering techniques that criminals usually make.
Federal investigators connected evidence to Albanito showing he was running a large-scale drug manufacturing operation.
In January 2021, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper stopped a former cellmate of Albanito in Alachua County. FHP found a package of cocaine and parts for a machine used to compress materials into a pill, also known as a pill press. Investigators determined the cocaine and pill press materials were heading for Albanito’s Cape Coral home.
In January 2023, the USSS, FDA-OCI and the Cape Coral Police Department executed a search warrant at Albanito’s home. Authorities quickly found a large commercial-grade pill press in Albanito’s garage and hundreds of counterfeit oxycodone pills.
FDA investigators found the counterfeit pills contained fentanyl. The fake pills looked identical to prescription oxycodone pills.
During the search, investigators also found more than 40,000 fake Xanax pills in a five-gallon bucket. The fake Xanax pills contained the designer drug clonazolam.
Authorities also found 20 pounds of a pill binding agent, pill dyes and two firearms inside the Cape Coral home.
DNA testing from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives concluded that Albanito possessed the guns. This means that Albanito, a convicted felon, was illegally in possession of the firearms.
Authorities also uncovered information at the Cape Coral home that they said pointed to him defrauding an online bank out of nearly $100,000. Albanito appears to have bought a luxury vehicle and watch from this account.
The court ordered Albanito must pay a fine of $500,000 as well as forfeit $97,146 to the United States and make full restitution to a victim of his bank fraud.
Albanito pled guilty in June 2023.