Two Charged with Fentanyl Distribution in Fresno County
FRESNO, Calif. — U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert, Acting Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Bob P. Beris, Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni, and Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp announced two recent arrests in Fresno County that are part of increased and coordinated enforcement efforts to block the distribution of fentanyl.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to target the criminal drug networks that are flooding the United States with deadly, fentanyl-laced pills,” said U.S. Attorney Talbert. “We remain committed to reducing drug-related violence and overdose deaths caused by these deadly pills. Law enforcement efforts, however, are not enough, and I urge the public to be aware of the threats and dangers of these pills.”
“Fentanyl is the greatest drug threat to public health and safety in the Central Valley,” said Bob P. Beris. “The substantial amount of fentanyl-laced pills and powder seized in these investigations has undoubtedly saved lives. DEA remains committed to holding accountable those who distribute this poison that wreaks havoc in our communities.”
A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Pedro Miranda-Muro, 23 of Los Angeles, charging him with trafficking 400 grams and more of fentanyl and 100 grams and more of heroin and related offenses. Miranda-Muro was stopped by law enforcement officers for traffic violations on Interstate 5. According to court documents, during a search of Miranda-Muro’s vehicle after a Jan. 3, 2023, stop, several cellophane-wrapped packages were found that were believed to contain narcotics. Later, lab results showed that the packages contained approximately 5 kilograms of fentanyl and a half kilogram of heroin. Additionally, law enforcement found evidence on Miranda-Muro’s cellphone establishing that Miranda-Muro rented at least four storage lockers to store the drugs, picked up shipments of controlled substances that he then further distributed, picked up payment for the drugs totaling tens of thousands of dollars on multiple occasions, delivered proceeds to others, paid at least one uncharged co-conspirator, and retained his “share” of the money.
A separate criminal complaint alleges that Uriel Sotelo-Patino, 35 of Selma, possessed with intent to distribute over 400 grams of fentanyl. According to court documents, Sotelo-Patino, a suspected supplier of fentanyl, offered to sell 5,000 counterfeit M30 pills laced with fentanyl to a confidential source working with law enforcement. According to court documents, Sotelo-Patino showed the confidential source a photograph of eight gallon-sized zip lock bags filled with small blue pills and three other packages. On Jan. 4, 2023, Sotelo-Patino was detained on his way to meet with the confidential source. During searches of residences associated with Sotelo- Patino, law enforcement agents seized over 17 kilograms of fentanyl-laced pills and a pound of heroin.
The case against Pedro Miranda-Muro is the product of an investigation by the DEA, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, and the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly A. Sanchez is prosecuting the case.
The case against Sotelo-Patino is the product of an investigation by the DEA, the Clovis Police Department, the Selma Police Department and the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Gilio is 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.
The trafficking charges in each of these cases carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, a fine of up 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.