Man suspected of advertising fentanyl online is arrested after ‘customers’ turn out to be cops

A digital scale with narcotics, a ballistic vest and several firearms
Cash, guns and narcotics were found in a Fullerton-area motel room after its occupant tried to sell fentanyl to Costa Mesa detectives through an online marketplace, police said.
(Costa Mesa Police Department)

A man arrested on suspicion of selling narcotics to Costa Mesa police detectives, who were responding to an online ad offering fentanyl for sale, pleaded not guilty last week to multiple felony counts of drug and gun possession, court records show.

The Costa Mesa Police Department shared news of the arrest Wednesday in a Facebook post, describing how the suspect had advertised fentanyl on an unnamed online marketplace. He further told the officers he had access to guns.

Detectives agreed to meet the seller at a motel in the Fullerton area, where they purchased 2 ounces of fentanyl, police said. Shortly after the purchase, the officers arrested the suspect — identified as Christopher John Ricci, 34, of Berkeley — on suspicion of possession of narcotics with intent to sell.


Ricci was also found in possession of a large amount of cash and a key to a motel room, according to the Facebook post. Officers conducting a record check determined Ricci was on post-release community supervision, a form of probation meant to assist offenders with their rehabilitation and reentry to society, and had two outstanding warrants.

Detectives determined the room key in Ricci’s possession was from the motel where they met him and searched the room, where they reportedly found 3 pounds of fentanyl, 20 morphine pills, a digital scale, more cash, numerous firearms, a ballistic vest and more than 100 rounds of ammunition.

A subsequent investigation into the firearms recovered from the motel room revealed they had been taken from a storage unit in a nearby city and belonged to an individual who was unaware they’d been stolen, police said.

Ricci appeared in a Westminster courtroom Jan. 6 and pleaded not guilty to five felony counts of possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and being found with ammunition while on probation, court records indicate.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 20.