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Tipsheet

San Jose Police Union Director Charged With Trying to Import Fentanyl Into U.S.

Twitter/Port Director Michael W. Humphries

The executive director of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association (SJPOA) was charged with attempting to illegally import a synthetic opioid drug from overseas in a scheme to distribute them in the United States. 

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Joanna Marian Segovia, who worked with the organization for almost 20 years, used her home and office computers to order thousands of opioid pills to her home and agreed to distribute them across the country. Segovia was apprehended as part of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security that found that she was ordering the drugs to San Francisco from abroad (via Department of Justice):

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.

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. 

According to the complaint, Segovia continued to order controlled substances even after being interviewed by federal investigators in February 2023. On March 13, 2023, federal agents seized a parcel in Kentucky, containing valeryl fentanyl, addressed to Segovia. The package allegedly originated from China on March 10, 2023 and declared its contents as a “clock.” 

Segovia is charged with attempt to unlawfully import valeryl fentanyl, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 952(a).

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According to CBS News, Segovia faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years if convicted. The court may also order her to serve at least 3 years of supervised release and pay a fine up to $250,000.

NBC Bay Area shared the police union’s statement on the situation on Wednesday: 

“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. No other individual at the POA is involved or had prior knowledge of the alleged acts. The POA immediately placed the civilian employee on leave and as is standard procedure cut off all access to the POA. The Board of Directors is saddened and disappointed at hearing this news and we have pledged to provide our full support to the investigative authorities.”

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