Following an investigation spurred on by dozens of fentanyl overdoses in the Fresno area, the alleged leader of a drug trafficking ring and 17 others were arrested and charged by federal authorities, prosecutors said Friday.
Horacio Torrecillas Urias Jr., the self-proclaimed “M30 king of Fresno,” and the others were charged last month with trafficking in fentanyl powder and pills, cocaine and methamphetamine, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in California.
The investigation of the ring began after a series of overdoses last fall that involved counterfeit oxycodone tablets, usually labeled “M30”, which were found to contain fentanyl.
“Like genuine oxycodone M30 tablets, they are small, round and light blue or green in color with an ‘M’ stamped on one side and a ’30 ‘on the other,” says the US law firm.
According to the criminal report, Torrecilla obtained tens of thousands of counterfeit M30 pills and large quantities of other drugs from sources in Mexico, and then distributed them together with his co-defendants to dealers in California and elsewhere.
Local, state and federal agencies including the Fresno Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Department of Homeland Security participated in the investigation.
“During the investigation, federal, state and local law enforcement agents stopped traffic, eavesdropped on packages and executed search warrants that resulted in the recovery of over 55,000 M30 fentanyl pills, 6 pounds of fentanyl powder, 10 pounds of methamphetamine, one pound of cocaine, 25 firearms and hundreds of ammunition cartridges. the American Law Firm.
In one case, an investigation into overdoses of two young people in October last year led to the arrest of Uriel Diaz-Santos suspected of providing the pills. During a search of Diaz-Santos’ phone, investigators determined that Torrecillas may have provided Diaz-Santos with the pills, according to the federal complaint.
In December, investigators searched a phone found at the scene of another overdose and discovered conversations between the person who had overdosed, Torrecillas, and another person, Brayan Cruz, where they were discussing a drug sale, prosecutors said.
After busting other retailers, investigators said they discovered other conversations involving Cruz, Torrecillas and other retailers who negotiated sales, some in private messaging apps on social media.
Investigators said they received a wiretapping order for Torrecilla’s cell phone in January. In an intercepted call, they said, he asked another person to leave a package at the post office to send to New Mexico. The package was found to contain 3 pounds of methamphetamine.
Over the course of several weeks, investigators said they intercepted several conversations between Torrecillas and others who were negotiating the sale, purchase and distribution of thousands of pills and other drugs.
“Fentanyl is a real danger, not only for our society, not only for our state, but for our nation,” Fresno police chief Paco Balderrama said in a press release. “It was fentanyl overdoses that led to the development of the Fentanyl Overdose Resolution Team (FORT) here in Fresno. Last year alone, they responded to 84 overdoses, 34 of which led to death.”
The defendants each risk up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $ 1 million to $ 10 million, prosecutors said.