Nearly 30 people were sentenced for fentanyl trafficking offenses in 2023 in the Eastern District of California.
U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert released an overview of the actions taken by the federal government in 2023 to confront the fentanyl crisis.
The big picture: Last year there were 86 suspects who appeared in federal district courts in Sacramento and Fresno who were charged with fentanyl distribution offenses.
- There were 28 people sentenced for fentanyl trafficking offenses. Their sentences range from two to 17 years in prison.
- There were another 29 suspects who pleaded guilty to fentanyl-related charges and are awaiting sentencing. Other cases are still pending.
Driving the news: One of the cases involved Michael Ortega, 22, of Clovis. On Aug. 28, 2023, he was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison for selling fentanyl to a person under the age of 21.
- He sold one and a half counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl to a 17-year-old, which caused the victim to overdose with a serious bodily injury. The victim survived and has since recovered.
- Jose Santana, 46, of Shafter was sentenced to 17 years and six months in prison on Oct. 30, 2023, for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and heroin.
- Another suspect who was sentenced was Pedro Duran, 32, who will spend 17 years in prison for possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine. He was found in possession of three pounds of fentanyl, as well as 33 pounds of methamphetamine, three pounds of cocaine, three pounds of fentanyl pills and over three pounds of marijuana.
What they’re saying: “While the work done by our office this year is significant, numbers alone cannot tell the whole story,” Talbert said in a statement. “The sons, daughters, spouses, and friends who have lost their lives due to fentanyl overdoses are not numbers, and the law enforcement officers and agents know firsthand the dangers of fentanyl.”