FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Two recent arrests have been made in Fresno County that is part of an increased coordinated enforcement effort to block the distribution of fentanyl. This announcement was made in a joint press conference by The United States Department of Justice (DOJ).
According to the DOJ, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against 23-year-old Pedro Miranda-Muro, of Los Angeles. Miranda-Muro has been charged with trafficking 400 grams and more of fentanyl and 100 grams and more of heroin and related offenses.
Officials say Miranda-Muro was stopped by law enforcement officers for traffic violations on Interstate 5 and Highway 33 on January 3. During a search of his vehicle, several cellophane-wrapped packages were found that were believed to contain narcotics. Later, lab results showed that the package contained approximately 5 kilograms of fentanyl and a half kilogram of heroin.
Miranda-Muro’s cellphone had evidence that he had rented at least four storage lockers to store the drugs, picked up shipments of controlled substances that he then further distributed, picked up for payment for the drugs totaling tens of thousands of dollars on multiple occasions, delivered proceeds to others, paid at least one uncharged co-conspirator, and retained his “share” of the money.
At the time of his arrest, Miranda-Muro was able to take advantage of this still in effect “Zero Dollar Emergency Bail Rule” that was still in effect and was released four hours later. On January 10 he was arrested in Huron and booked in the Fresno County Jail with a federal hold and was not eligible for bail.
A separate criminal complaint according to the court documents alleges that 35-year-old Uriel Sotelo-Patino of Selma possessed with intent to distribute over 400 grams of fentanyl. Sotelo-Patino a suspected supplier of fentanyl offered to sell 5,000 counterfeit M30 pills laced with fentanyl to a confidential source working with law enforcement.
Court documents say, Sotelo-Patino showed the confidential source a photograph of eight-gallon-sized zip-lock bags filled with small blue pills and three other packages. On January 4, he was detained on his way to meet with the confidential source. During searches of residences associated with Sotelo-Patino, law enforcement agents seized over 17 kilograms of fentanyl-laced pills and a pound of heroin.
“Fentanyl is the greatest drug threat to public health and safety in the Central Valley,” said Bob P. Beris, Acting Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge. “The substantial amount of fentanyl-laced pills and powder seized in these investigations has undoubtedly saved lives. DEA remains committed to holding accountable those who distribute this poison that wreaks havoc in our communities.”
The DOJ says the trafficking charges in each of these cases carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10 million. Any sentence would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations, the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.