A high-ranking member of the San Jose Police Officers Association (POA) has been accused of masterminding a scheme to import and distribute fentanyl across the United States.
Joanne Marian Segovia has been charged with attempting to illegally import synthetic opioid drugs and distribute them for more than seven years, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday. https://t.co/73hcc4cFan
— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) March 30, 2023
Joanne Segovia, 64, was charged with attempting to unlawfully import a synthetic opioid on March 29. If convicted, she could face a 20-year prison term and a fine of up to $250,000.
Authorities say Segovia operated a drug ring and had at least 61 shipments of the drug sent to her residence from countries including China, Hungary, India, and Singapore between 2015 and 2023.
The labels on the shipments were misleading in an attempt to throw authorities off. According to a court complaint, the labels indicated that the packages were “Wedding Party Gifts,” “Chocolate and Sweets” and “Gift Cosmetics.”
However, police seized five of these shipments starting in January 2019 and discovered thousands of dollars worth of pills, including the synthetic opioids Tramadol and Tapentadol, a drug ideally used by diabetes patients to manage nerve damage.
Segovia allegedly used her home and work computers, as well as encrypted WhatsApp communications, for the order and distribution of the illegal goods. She even sent a package using the police union’s UPS account, according to officials.
Per New York Post, Segovia’s operation was exposed when investigators with Homeland Security linked her to a network in India that they were investigating for shipping drugs into the U.S.
Despite being questioned in February, Segovia continued to order the controlled substances, the complaint alleges. She would eventually be arrested on March 13 after authorities apprehended a package sent to her from China in Kentucky. The package, labeled “clock,” contained valeryl fentanyl.
San Jose Police Association spokesman Tom Saggau confirmed the allegations and said the organization has been cooperating with federal authorities since being informed of the investigation. “Last Friday we were informed by federal authorities that one of our civilian employees was under investigation for distribution of a controlled substance and the POA has been fully and completely cooperating with the federal authorities as they continue their investigation,” he said.
The Board of Directors also expressed their disappointment and concern about the incident and pledged their full support to the authorities conducting the investigation.
Segovia’s arrest came as an unpleasant surprise for police union president Sean Pritchard, who believed the POA executive was beyond such illegal acts. “This is not the person we’ve known, the person who has worked with fallen officers’ families, organized fundraisers for officers’ kids — just not who we’ve known over a decade,” he stated.