A California sheriff’s deputy, Jorge Oceguera-Rocha, has been hit with two felony charges on Monday concerning possessing over 100 pounds of fentanyl in his vehicle. In a significant twist, prosecutors have also alleged that he may have ties to a Mexican drug cartel.
The charges against Oceguera-Rocha include one felony count each of possessing fentanyl for sale and transporting narcotics.
Additionally, he faces an accusation of being armed with a loaded firearm during a drug offense, potentially leading to a longer sentence if he is found guilty.
Oceguera-Rocha, aged 25, resigned from his position following his arrest on September 17. He pleaded not guilty to all charges during a court appearance in Banning, approximately 80 miles outside downtown Los Angeles.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department had sought to increase his bail to $5 million, citing concerns that he might flee due to his possible connection to a Mexican drug organization. While a judge granted this request initially, it will undergo further review during a future court hearing.
The investigation into Oceguera-Rocha began when the sheriff’s department while probing a drug ring, identified one of its deputies as a central figure in the transportation of narcotics within the county. This revelation led to an investigation into his activities in September.
New details of the investigation have emerged, shedding light on the case. Authorities intercepted Oceguera-Rocha’s phone calls and discovered on September 16 that he was planning to visit an “identified narcotic stash location” in Victorville, as stated in an affidavit filed in court along with the previous bail request.
Following his movements, investigators spotted Oceguera-Rocha driving in Banning and later in San Bernardino County. He arrived at a home in Victorville around 3 p.m., where he called a family member before entering the garage. Approximately ten minutes later, he emerged from the garage.
As Oceguera-Rocha drove back to Banning, investigators conducted a traffic stop near the Oak Valley exit of I-10 as he neared Calimesa. During the stop, a trained dog alerted deputies to the probable presence of narcotics in his vehicle.
Upon searching the trunk of the vehicle, deputies discovered four trash bags containing square-shaped packages wrapped in clear cellophane. Further examination revealed that these packages contained many blue fentanyl-laced M30 pills.
The total weight of the packages amounted to 104 pounds, containing approximately 520,000 pills, all confirmed to be fentanyl. Additionally, a loaded Glock handgun was found in a bag in the backseat of Oceguera-Rocha’s vehicle.
The affidavit mentioned the deputy’s knowledge of the dangers of fentanyl due to his employment with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. It estimated that the quantity he possessed at the time of his arrest was sufficient to cause harm to around 2 million people potentially.
Investigator Joshua Ricard alleged that Oceguera-Rocha poses a danger to the public and is a flight risk, suggesting that any money he posts for bail could be linked to criminal organizations. However, the filing did not provide specific evidence of Oceguera-Rocha’s connection to a Mexican cartel.
The sheriff’s department clarified that it does not believe the deputy was involved in drug dealings while on duty or within the jails where he was employed in transportation.