A Santa Maria man arrested for allegedly possessing a massive amount of illegal drugs for sale — including fentanyl — was set to appear in Santa Barbara Superior Court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on the charges against him when suddenly the hearing was canceled.
The reason: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles were keenly interested in the case.
So Santa Barbara County prosecutors agreed to drop their case in favor of letting the feds prosecute him.
Deputy District Attorney Madison Whitmore told the News-Press that her office agreed to dismiss its case against Victor Anthony Olivera Hernandez, 24, after the U.S. Attorney’s Office notified her office that it had issued an arrest warrant for him in anticipation of filing a case against him.
Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, told the News-Press Thursday that his office filed its own complaint against Mr. Hernandez on Tuesday, but that no date in U.S. District Court had been set when he would make his initial appearance prior to being arraigned. The defendant remains in Santa Barbara County Main Jail on $535,000 bail.
Detectives with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Bureau arrested Mr. Hernandez on Aug. 4 after seizing a huge amount of drugs from a residence in the 100 block of Curryer Street. Some of the narcotics were found in areas accessible to children living there.
They seized approximately 17,000 M30 fentanyl pills, 22.5 pounds of cannabis flower, 27 grams of MDMA or Ecstasy, 218 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, three grams of cocaine and hundreds of acid tabs. Some of the narcotics seized were found in areas accessible to children who were living in the residence, detectives said.
Mr. Hernandez was arrested on suspicion of child cruelty, unlawful possession of ammunition and possession of narcotics for sales, all felonies.
The federal complaint against him charges him with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Roger Chaney Jr., DEA special agent, wrote the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant being issued, as well as a search warrant for three
iPhones confiscated after Mr. Hernandez was arrested. Those phones are now in custody of the Sheriff’s Office in Santa Maria.
In his summary of probable cause justifying the complaint and warrants, he noted that Mr. Hernandez possessed more than 16,000 pills containing fentanyl (including wrappings and/or containers) and a variety of other controlled substances and a digital scale in his bedroom and in the backyard of his house when he was arrested.
Mr. Hernandez allegedly told officers the drugs belonged to him and that he was holding them for another individual.
His girlfriend’s phone contains messages from Mr. Hernandez with coded terminology referring to his selling narcotics, according to Agent Chaney.
The phone allegedly was found in the car where Mr. Hernandez had been sitting before his arrest. Another phone was identified by his girlfriend as belonging to him, and a third was found in his bedroom where several controlled substances were found, Agent Chaney said. email: email@example.com