Victor Anthony Olivera Hernandez scheduled to be tried Nov. 8 in federal court
An accused drug dealer from Santa Maria arrested after law enforcement officers allegedly caught him with a massive amount of illegal narcotics — including nearly 17,000 pills containing fentanyl — pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.
Defendant Victor Anthony Olivera Hernandez, 21, denied the charge against him contained in a grand jury indictment during his arraignment Thursday in U.S. District Court, Ciaran McEvoy, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, told the News-Press Thursday.
Mr. Hernandez’s jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 8 at 9 a.m. U.S. District Judge George H. Wu is assigned to this case. Judge Wu is located in Courtroom 9D (ninth floor) of the U.S. Courthouse, 350 W. 1st St., Los Angeles.
“The Grand Jury charges: On or about Aug. 4, 2022, in Santa Barbara County, within the Central District of California, defendant Victor Anthony Olivera Hernandez, knowingly and intentionally possessed with intent to distribute at least 400 grams, that is, approximately 1,676.12 grams, of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, a Schedule II narcotic controlled substance,” the indictment states.
Mr. Hernandez, who was previously being held at the Santa Barbara County Main Jail in Santa Barbara, is currently incarcerated at the Men’s Detention Center in Los Angeles, Mr. McEvoy said. It is a federal facility run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He has been ordered jailed without bond.
Originally, Mr. Hernandez was being prosecuted in Superior Court by Santa Barbara County prosecutors, but then the U.S. Attorney’s Office reached out and said it wanted to prosecute him on federal charges. Local 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 justifying 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.