Federal officials have charged the executive director of a police union in California with running a drug operation from her residence and using her office computer and UPS account to procure and distribute opioids and various other drugs.
On Wednesday, Joanne Marian Segovia, an employee of the San Jose Police Officers Association since 2003, was accused of trying to illicitly bring in a synthetic opioid known as Valeryl fentanyl. If convicted of the charges, she faces up to 20 years in prison.
The president of the San Jose Police Officers Association expressed his shock at the charges against Segovia, the union’s longtime executive director.
“She’s been the grandma of the POA,” Police union President Sean Pritchard told NBC. “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.”
“We have the hardest working, most dedicated, committed officers there is,” he continued. “This is no reflection of who they are as individuals, what they do for our community, nor what they stand for as a profession.”
According to the Justice Department, Segovia would import packages hiding drugs inside:
The complaint alleges that between October 2015 and January 2023, Segovia had at least 61 shipments mailed to her home, originating from countries including Hong Kong, Hungary, India, and Singapore. The manifests for these shipments declared their contents with labels like “Wedding Party Favors,” “Gift Makeup,” or “Chocolate and Sweets.” But between July 2019 and January 2023, officials intercepted and opened five of these shipments and found that they contained thousands of pills of controlled substances, including the synthetic opioids Tramadol and Tapentadol. Certain parcels were valued at thousands of dollars’ worth of drugs.
The DOJ also claims that Segovia used her position at the POA to help manage her drug trafficking operation:
Also alleged is that Segovia used encrypted WhatsApp communications to plan the logistics for receiving and sending pill shipments. For example, the complaint describes a three-year period between January 2020 and March 2023 during which Segovia is alleged to have exchanged hundreds of messages with someone using a phone with an India country code. The messages discussed details for shipping and payment of pills and contained hundreds of pictures of tablets, shipping labels, packaging, payment receipts, and payment confirmations.
The complaint alleges that Segovia used her office at the San Jose Police Officers’ Association to distribute controlled substances. For example, in spring 2021, Segovia was told by a supplier to send a package to a woman in North Carolina. Segovia then sent this supplier a photograph of a shipment made using the UPS account of San Jose Police Officers’ Association.
The Mayor of San Jose, Matt Mahan, described the allegation as “incredibly disturbing.”
“This is an incredibly disturbing allegation,” he said in a statement. “I want to thank US Attorney [Ismail] Ramsey and his colleagues for aggressively pursuing the sources of fentanyl coming into our communities and holding drug dealers accountable.”
The prevalence of fentanyl is widely considered to be one of America’s most pressing social issues, with the country reporting a 15 percent increase in deaths from 2021 to 2022 alone. Much of this fentanyl enters the country through the southern border, with a Congressional testimony earlier this year detailing how the quantity of the drug seized by authorities over a three-month period was sufficient to kill the U.S. population five times over.
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