MONTEREY (CBS SF) – Federal prosecutors on Monday announced charges against a 19-year-old Monterey County resident accused of selling counterfeit pills laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl to at least two people, leading to one overdose death.
Xavier Jimenez Robledo is charged for allegedly distributing counterfeit “M30” pills to a 17-year-old who overdosed and later recovered at a hospital, as well as 20-year-old Thomas Henderson, who died of an overdose in May, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which collaborated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate the case, Jimenez Robledo sold as many as 20 pills per day and bought them in batches of 150 for between $1,000 and $1,500 per batch.
David Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, said in an interview that while Jimenez Robledo is not accused of selling pills to anyone other than the two victims outlined in the charges, the quantity of pills he said he bought and sold is consistent with a larger drug trafficking operation.
“With every overdose death, our community suffers a painful lesson,” Anderson said, adding that this case “really puts the lie” to the claim that drug trafficking is a victimless crime.
Jimenez Robledo confirmed in an interview with DEA agents that he was a fentanyl addict himself and had nearly overdosed on a prior occasion before he self-administered naloxone, a medication designed to treat opioid overdoses, prosecutors said.
Fentanyl is roughly 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is often pressed into pills or mixed with other illicit drugs such as cocaine. Anderson said fentanyl is increasingly inexpensive to manufacture and continues to flood marketplaces for illegal drugs.
Jimenez Robledo also allegedly claimed he had been involved in gang activity since the age of 14. Investigators found a receipt inside his bedroom at a house on Military Avenue in Seaside for a $624.52 purchase of guns and ammunition on May 28 from a sporting goods store in Sparks, Nevada.
While the guns and ammunition listed on the receipt were not found at Jimenez Robledo’s home, he said they had been passed around “the hood” and now belonged to people in “the streets,” prosecutors said.
Anderson said current gang activity in southern Monterey County is as concerning as it has been anywhere else in his jurisdiction, which spans along the coast of the state from Del Norte County to Monterey County.
“This is an area that is crying out for … enhanced protection by law enforcement,” Anderson said of southern Monterey County.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed the criminal complaint in federal court on June 12.
Jimenez Robledo faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine if found guilty for distribution and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.
Anderson said he hopes the case will help illustrate the significant danger of fentanyl and counterfeit pills in general.
“Taking even one counterfeit pill, one time,” he said, can have tragic consequences.
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