Tehama County Man Indicted for Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and Illegal Firearm Possession

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SACRAMENTO : A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Austreberto Santamaria-Valencia, 25, of Red Bluff, charging him with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and being a felon in possession of a firearm, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, on Feb. 6, law enforcement officers responded to a report of a suspected overdose by a motel guest in Red Bluff. When officers entered the room, they found Santamaria-Valencia sitting in a chair, unconscious but breathing. On the bed near him, officers saw multiple plastic bags containing what appeared to be blue pills, of the type sold as counterfeit oxycodone pills, but which often contain fentanyl. Officers were able to wake Santamaria-Valencia. In response to their questions, Santamaria-Valencia indicated that he had taken fentanyl. Medical personnel tended to Santamaria-Valencia and confirmed he was not in danger of overdosing. A records check indicated that Santamaria-Valencia had a warrant out for his arrest, and officers arrested him at that time.

Pursuant to an authorized search warrant, after Santamaria-Valencia had been taken to the Tehama County Jail, officers searched Santamaria-Valencia’s room and car and seized approximately 1,000 counterfeit M-30 Oxycodone pills, a loaded Taurus G3C 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, two bottles containing a total of 170 Farmapram (Alprazolam-Xanax) pills, five packets of suboxone strips, 90 grams of marijuana, approximately $7,000 in cash, and other items commonly used in street sales of narcotics.

This case is the product of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, the Red Bluff Police Department, the Tehama County Major Crimes Unit, and the Tehama County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Conolly is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Santamaria-Valencia faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the charge of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. If convicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm, he faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 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 Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime. To learn more about Project Safe Neighborhoods, go to www.justice.gov/psn.

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