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Dealer whose release sparked outrage now faces up to 10 years

Dellsean Hamilton is one of the faces of the opiate epidemic – but not as a victim.

Investigators say he's one of the region's biggest heroin and fentanyl dealers and has been arrested three times for drug dealing.

Hamilton is also the suspect who prompted public outrage when, in the midst of a series of fatal opiate overdoses, a Buffalo City Court judge set his bail at only $20,000 and he was back on the streets in a few hours.

Now facing federal charges, Hamilton was back in court Thursday and, this time, admitted conspiring with others to sell heroin and fentanyl in Buffalo and Cheektowaga until early last year.

He will face a recommended sentence of up to 125 months – a little over 10 years – in prison when he is sentenced in August by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

Dellsean Hamilton

Arrested several times, Hamilton's first drug-dealing charge stemmed from a March 2015 traffic stop and Cheektowaga police's seizure of 141 packets of fentanyl hidden inside his car. They arrested Hamilton and his girlfriend, Brittney Ridgeway, and charged them with drug dealing.

A few months later, Buffalo and Erie County narcotics investigators raided two of Hamilton's homes and accused him of possessing 2,100 packets of fentanyl-laced opiates. They also claimed the arrest stemmed from an investigation into the fatal overdose of a man in the Town of Concord.

When City Court Judge Betty Calvo-Torres set bail at $20,000, police, prosecutors and the public reacted with anger. After Hamilton was later indicted on new felony charges, a state judge set bail at $250,000 and, this time, it took Hamilton a month to raise bail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch said he went right back to dealing heroin and fentanyl and was arrested again in January of last year. This time, there was no bail and he's been in custody ever since his arrest.

In the federal case, Hamilton is accused of making repeated heroin sales to a confidential source working with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Cheektowaga police.

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