“M30 King of Fresno” and 17 Members of His Drug Trafficking Ring Charged
Federal Offenses Following Investigation into a String of Overdoses
FRESNO, Calif. — U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Tatum King announced the results of an investigation into fentanyl-related overdoses in the Fresno area, which resulted in charges against of a total of 18 drug traffickers, charging them with trafficking fentanyl powder, fentanyl pills, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
“Many of the deaths and near deaths in drug overdoses are caused by counterfeit pills that look like prescription pills, but are not and actually contain fentanyl. The user may be unaware that the pills contain fentanyl and can be deadly,” said U.S. Attorney Talbert. “The charges announced today and the seizure of illicit drugs demonstrate our combined commitment to prevent the flow of these dangerous drugs into our communities.”
“Our agents work night and day to keep Fresno free from drugs like fentanyl that poison our children,” said Tatum King, special agent in charge, HSI San Francisco. “Today’s announcement of charges against 18 individuals involved in manufacturing and distributing this dangerous drug highlights HSI’s commitment our investigators have in partnership with prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office and local, state, and federal law enforcement to keep our community safe.”
The defendants are:
Horacio Torrecillas Urias Jr., of Fresno;
Amadeo Sarabia Jr., of Fresno;
Justin Dwayne Riddle, of Las Cruces, New Mexico;
Alma Garza, of Fresno;
Juan Valencia Jr., of Fresno;
Abel Lozano, of Sanger;
Henry Cox, of Sanger;
Alejandro Guzman, of Fresno;
Erica Ramirez, of Fresno;
Brayan Cruz, of Fresno;
Jacob Valles, of Fresno;
Cody Fyfe, of Fresno;
Christian Harris-Blanchette, of Fresno;
Marvin Carreno, of Fresno;
Victor Yair Torrecillas-Urias, of Fresno;
Oscar Jaramillo-Cortez, of Fresno;
Alex Garcia, of Fresno; and
According to court documents, the investigation began after a series of fentanyl-pill overdoses in the Fresno area. These overdoses were caused by counterfeit oxycodone M30 tablets containing fentanyl, referred to on the street as M30s. Similar to authentic oxycodone M30 tablets, they are small, round, and light blue or green in color with “M” stamped on one side and “30” on the other. The investigation, dubbed “Operation Killer High,” aimed to search for the drug dealers believed to have supplied the toxic pills that caused the recent spike in fentanyl-related overdoses. The operation uncovered a large drug-trafficking ring led by Horacio Torrecillas Urias Jr., the self-proclaimed “M30 king of Fresno.”
According to the criminal complaint, Torrecillas Urias Jr. was obtaining, directly from sources in Mexico, tens of thousands of counterfeit M30 fentanyl pills and large quantities of fentanyl powder, cocaine and methamphetamine. He and his co-defendants were then distributing these illicit narcotics to drug dealers inside and outside of California. During the investigation, federal, state, and local law enforcement agents conducted traffic stops, intercepted packages, and executed residential search warrants that resulted in the recovery of over 55,000 M30 fentanyl pills, 6 pounds of fentanyl powder, 10 pounds of methamphetamine, a pound of cocaine, 25 firearms, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition..
“It is DEA’s mission to keep American communities healthy and safe. Our work is more important than ever as every fentanyl seizure represents potential lives saved,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Wade R. Shannon. “In collaboration with our law enforcement counterparts we will continue to hold accountable those organizations who are poisoning our community with these deadly drugs.”
Inspector in Charge Rafael Nuñez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, San Francisco Division said: “Protecting postal customers and employees from harmful material delivered in the mail is the highest priority of the United States Postal Inspection Service. Controlled substances are dangerous to anyone who receives them and to the postal workers who handle those parcels while doing their jobs. Postal Inspectors are proud to have a part in this team effort to shut down a drug distribution operation and bring those responsible to justice.”
“The Fresno Police Department is proud to have participated in ‘Operation Killer High,’” said Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama. “Fentanyl is a true danger, not just to our community, not just to our state, but to our nation. 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, with 34 of them resulting in death. ‘Operation Killer High’ has culminated in 19 drug trafficking suspects being charged with federal offenses. These suspects, one of whom touts himself as the ‘M30 king of Fresno,’ are responsible for spreading fentanyl and other drugs throughout our city. We are happy to be standing side by side with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners as we hold these criminals accountable for their actions.”
The case was the result of an investigation by the Fentanyl Overdose Response Team (FORT) (a multi-agency team composed of Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Fresno Police Department) the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Clovis Police Department, the Fresno County Sherriff’s Office, and the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office. The Bakersfield Police Department and the California Highway Patrol assisted in the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin J. Gilio and Laurel J. Montoya are prosecuting the case.
This case is part of Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge (S.O.S.) a program designed to reduce the supply of deadly synthetic opioids in high impact areas as well as identifying wholesale distribution networks and international and domestic suppliers. In July 2018, the Justice Department announced the creation of S.O.S., which is being implemented in the Eastern District of California and nine other federal districts.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
If convicted, the defendants each face a statutory penalty range a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison and fines up to $1 million to $10 million. Any sentence, however, 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.