Police report seizing 17,000 fentanyl pills
An admitted Santa Maria drug dealer has pleaded guilty in federal court to a felony charge of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, including about 17,000 pills laced with the synthetic opioid, a U.S. Attorney’s spokesman said.
Victor Anthony Olivera Hernandez, 21, had been scheduled to stand trial in February after first denying the charge against him contained in a grand jury indictment.
“No trial. He pleaded guilty on Dec. 8 to one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl,” Ciaran McEvoy, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, told the News-Press.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 17.
“If he is convicted, the mandatory minimum sentence he would face under the law is 10 years in federal prison,” Mr. McEvoy said. “The statutory maximum sentence he would face is life imprisonment.”
According to the indictment, on Aug. 4, 2022, Mr. Olivera “knowingly and intentionally possessed with intent to distribute approximately 1,676.12 grams of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, a Schedule II narcotic controlled substance.”
Mr. Hernandez is incarcerated at the Men’s Detention Center in Los Angeles, a federal facility run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
He originally was prosecuted locally, but then the U.S. Attorney’s Office reached out and said it wanted to prosecute him on federal charges. Santa Barbara County prosecutors readily agreed. Mr. Hernandez was arrested Aug. 4 by detectives with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations after they raided a house in the 100 block of Curryer Street in Santa Maria. Some of the drugs seized were reportedly found in areas accessible to children living there.
Law enforcement reported seizing 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.
Mr. Hernandez was arrested on suspicion of child cruelty, unlawful possession of ammunition and possession of narcotics for sales, all felonies.
In his affidavit supporting the original federal criminal complaint, arrest warrant and search warrants against Mr. Hernandez, DEA Special Agent Roger Chaney Jr. said Mr. Hernandez possessed more than 16,000 pills containing fentanyl (including wrappings and/or containers), a variety of other controlled substances and a digital scale in his bedroom and in the backyard of his house when he was arrested.
The search warrants also applied to three iPhones confiscated by detectives, which Agent Chaney said contained evidence of drug sales carried out by Mr. Hernandez.
He said the defendant told detectives that all the drugs they found did not belong to him and that he was just holding them for another individual.