United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California

06/19/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/19/2017 18:59

Three Defendants Indicted in One of Nation’s Largest-Ever Fentanyl Seizures

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jarad E. Hodes (619) 546-7432

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY - June 19, 2017

SAN DIEGO - A long-term investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has led to one of the nation's largest seizures of the deadly synthetic opiate fentanyl and a federal indictment against three alleged traffickers.

According to the indictment unsealed today, Jonathan Ibarra, Hector Fernando Garcia and Anna Baker are charged with possession of 44.14 kilograms of fentanyl with the intent to distribute. Most of the fentanyl was seized from a house in Lemon Grove.

According to a search warrant affidavit, the defendants discussed the transportation of a then-unidentified controlled substance. On November 30, 2016, Ibarra received instructions to have a female courier, later identified as Baker, transport the narcotics in three separate trips on consecutive days.

Based on this information, agents requested a traffic stop of Baker's rented vehicle and seized about 15 kilograms of a substance later determined to be fentanyl. Law enforcement officers then obtained a search warrant for Baker's residence, where they found about 30 additional kilograms of the same substance.

Drug traffickers use the pure fentanyl powder to increase the potency of heroin or to manufacture counterfeit opioid painkillers that resemble oxycodone. Due to fentanyl's extreme potency - up to 50 times stronger than heroin - deaths from fentanyl-laced heroin and counterfeit pills are epidemic in the United States. Considering that just 3 milligrams is enough to kill an adult male, the 44.14 kilogram seizure represents over 14 million lethal doses. The attached photo, prepared by the San Diego County Medical Examiner, shows the lethal dose of fentanyl on a penny.

The defendants were arraigned on the indictment today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major.

This case is also the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.

*The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

DEFENDANTS

Jonathan Ibarra Age: 45 Lemon Grove, California

Hector Fernando Garcia Age: 46 San Diego, California

Anna Baker Age: 30 Lemon Grove, California

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Possession of Fentanyl with Intent to Distribute - Title 21, U.S.C., Section 841(a)(1)

Maximum penalty: Life in prison and $10,000,000 fine

AGENCY

United States Drug Enforcement Administration