Fresno man charged with illegally possessing thousands of fentanyl pills and a firearm
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Armando Chavez Jr., 19, of Fresno, charging him with possessing over 40 grams of fentanyl with intent to distribute it and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux announced.
According to court documents, Armando Chavez Jr. was selling counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl on Snapchat, a social media platform. After a nonfatal overdose was reported, Federal law enforcement agents working in an undercover capacity contacted Chavez and ordered oxycodone pills from him. Chavez agreed to sell the pills and drove to a predetermined meeting location. Once he arrived, Chavez and his car were searched, and law enforcement found approximately 100 fentanyl pills. Agents then executed a federal search warrant at Chavez’s residence. Inside his bedroom, law enforcement found over 1,300 fentanyl pills packaged for distribution and a loaded handgun.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, the California Highway Patrol, and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin J. Gilio is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Chavez faces a five-year mandatory minimum sentence, a five-year consecutive mandatory minimum sentence (for a total 10-year mandatory minimum sentence), a maximum penalty of life in prison, and a fine of up to a $5 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 defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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.