FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a six-count superseding indictment today adding Josue Morales, 23, to an April 29, 2021, indictment, that charged Madera residents Emilio Hernandez Yesca, 27, and Jorge Perez, 24, with trafficking fentanyl and methamphetamine, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, the charges arose out of a months-long investigation into a drug trafficking organization. Between October 2020 and March 2021, the three conspired to distribute pounds of methamphetamine and thousands of fentanyl pills. These fentanyl pills are clandestinely manufactured pills that are made to resemble pharmaceutical oxycodone pills, but instead contain fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 100 times stronger than morphine. Morales is alleged to have supplied thousands of fentanyl pills and several pounds of methamphetamine to Hernandez and Perez on two occasions. Hernandez and Perez are alleged to have then distributed some of those narcotics and possessed the remainder with intent to distribute them.
Associates of the trafficking ring, Madera residents Eli Quiroz Hernandez, 26, and Jorge Luis Hernandez Gonzalez, 30, were indicted in related cases in April 2021.
This case is the product of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Chowchilla Police Department, the Madera Police Department, and the Madera Narcotics Enforcement Team. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin J. Gilio is prosecuting the case.
If convicted of the charged offenses, Hernandez, Perez, and Morales each face a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison up to a maximum of life in prison and a $10 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 defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
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.