Two men, one at the center of a controversy over zero-dollar bail at the Fresno County Jail, now face federal charges and long prison terms related to the sale and distribution of fentanyl, authorities said on Thursday, January 19th..
Pedro Miranda-Muro, 23, of Los Angeles, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of trafficking 11 pounds of fentanyl as well as heroin, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced at Fresno news conference attended by federal and local law enforcement officials.
The second man, Uriel Sotelo-Patino, 35, of Selma was named in a federal criminal complaint alleging he possessed 400 grams of fentanyl with the intent to distribute when he was arrested in Clovis.
“It’s very concerning that this amount of fentanyl is being trafficked, distributed, and sold in our community,” said Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni. “This drug kills.”
Said Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp:
“Drug cartels are taking advantage of the American thirst for opioids and … anxiety medicines. They are making money hand over fist destroying American lives.”
Miranda-Muro was first arrested Jan. 3 by a narcotics team patrolling near Interstate 5 and Highway 33. But he was freed after four hours due to the Zero-Dollar Emergency Bail Rule, then in place in Fresno County Superior Court. The court ended the rule the day after Miranda-Muro walked out of jail without posting bond. Miranda-Muro was subsequently arrested on federal charges, and was not eligible for bail.
The complaint against Sotelo-Patino alleges that he offered to sell 5,000 pills laced with fentanyl to a confidential source working with police and that agents later seized 17 kilograms of pills and 1 pound of heroin.
The trafficking charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10 million.
At the news conference, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Bob Beris said that 2 milligrams of fentanyl, the amount the size of a pencil eraser, could be fatal. Lab tests by federal agencies show that 6 of 10 seized tablets contain a potentially lethal dose, he added.