A San Jose police union chief accused of importing and reselling deadly synthetic opioids from suppliers in half a dozen countries to customers all over the US turned herself in on Friday, according to local media.
Joanne Marian Segovia faces up to 20 years in prison for attempting to unlawfully import valerylfentanyl, a Schedule I synthetic fentanyl analogue.
Segovia allegedly spent nearly a decade of her tenure as executive director of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association trafficking in the deadly drugs, using police resources to move pills and powders around the country.
Using her personal and office computers, she ordered thousands of pills at a time from China, Hong Kong, Hungary, and India, receiving at least 61 such shipments at the union office and her home between October 2015 and January 2023 labeled as party favors, makeup, chocolates, and other innocuous items, according to the US Department of Justice’s criminal complaint. She then used the union’s UPS account to ship the synthetic narcotics to domestic customers right out of her office, taking payment via CashApp.
The Department of Homeland Security found Segovia’s name and address on the phone of an international drug smuggling suspect and subsequently intercepted five shipments to her between July 2019 and January 2023, netting over a kilogram of controlled substances, including thousands of pills of the synthetic opioids tramadol and tapentadol.
Confronted about the packages by Homeland Security agents in February, she insisted they were just supplements, claiming to “work for the police department.” In a second interview, Segovia claimed a family friend and housekeeper with a drug problem was responsible, though holes in her story failed to convince the agents.
Segovia is believed to have continued placing orders after the agents’ first visit, and an order bound for her address was intercepted on March 13 en route from China. Labeled ‘CLOCK’, its contents included white adhesive stickers containing valerylfentanyl.
Segovia was released without bond and ordered to refrain from travel outside Northern California. In addition to prison time, she could be fined up to $250,000 and serve at least three years’ supervised release.
Fentanyl overdoses, which killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2021, are the “single greatest challenge we face as a country,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday. Customs and Border Protection seized a record 15,000 pounds of fentanyl last year and is reportedly set to double that amount this year.
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