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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of California
Phillip A. Talbert, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 4, 2023

Mexican National Charged With Fentanyl and Methamphetamine Distribution in Madera County

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Jesus Cota Verdugo, 21, of Mexico, charging him with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, on April 11, 2023, Verdugo crashed his vehicle into another vehicle in Chowchilla and then fled from the scene. Law enforcement officers recovered his vehicle on the side of the road with the keys in the ignition and running. Inside the vehicle, officers recovered methamphetamine, fentanyl, an FN Scar rifle, an Aero Precision AR rifle, an Anderson rifle, an HK AR pistol, and a Springfield XD-9 pistol.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Chowchilla Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Arin C. Heinz is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Verdugo faces a maximum statutory penalty of a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine. 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 defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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.

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