A lengthy investigation into many deadly fentanyl overdoses in the Los Angeles area led to the arrest of the self-proclaimed ‘M30 King of Fresno’ and 17 others on federal drug trafficking charges.
Horacio T. Urias, Jr. and the other men were charged in February 2022 with drug trafficking large amounts of deadly fentanyl pills and powder, as well as methamphetamine and cocaine, according to the US attorney’s office based in LA.
The federal investigation into the fentanyl drug ring started after several overdoses in the fall of 2021 involving fake oxycodone tablets, also called M30 on the street, were laced with fentanyl.
The pills with fentanyl look like real oxycodone M30 tablets in that they are round, small, and green or light blue in color with an M stamped on a side and 30 on the opposite, side, according to the US attorney on the case.
Fake M30 Pills Flood LA From Mexico
The federal complaint states that Torrecillas bought thousands of fake M30 pills from drug traffickers in Mexico and sent them to drug deals across California and the US.
During the federal investigation, law enforcement at all levels did traffic stops, seized packages, and did residential searches that netted 55,000 fake M30 pills containing fentanyl. They also seized six pounds of fentanyl powder, 10 pounds of meth, 25 guns, and two pounds of cocaine.
One case resulted in the overdose of two teens in October 2021 that led to an arrest of Uriel Diaz-Santos who likely supplied the illegal pills. During a search of the man’s phone, federal investigators found that Torrecillas may have given the other man the pills.
Federal investigators in December also searched a cell phone found at the scene of yet another fentanyl overdose and found conversations between the victim and Torrecillas. Another man was included in the phone texts named Brayan Cruz.
After they busted other drug dealers, federal investigators reported they found other text conversations that involved Torrecillas, Cruz, and other drug dealers haggling over M30 sales.
Federal Agents Wiretapped Torrecillas’ Cell Phone
Federal agents did a wiretap on Torrecilla’s cell phone in early 2022. In one of the recorded conversations, the man asked someone else to drop a package in the mail that was to go to New Mexico. The box contained three pounds of meth.
Over a month, federal authorities said they saw several text conversations between other drug dealers and Torrecillas to negotiate the purchase and distribution of thousands of illegal pills containing fentanyl.
The Fresno police were a major part of the drug busts and arrests, noting that fentanyl is a major danger to the city, state, and United States. In just 2021, the Fresno police responded to 85 fentanyl overdoses and 34 of them led to death.
Many of the deaths and near-deaths are due to counterfeit pills that look just like prescription Oxycodone pills. They aren’t real and often contain fentanyl, and it only takes a tiny amount of the illegal drug to cause a serious overdose or even death.
Federal, state, and local partners launched Operation Killer High, leading to 19 suspected drug traffickers being charged with federal crimes.
If the arrested men are convicted on all charges, they could be sentenced to 10 years to life and fined up to $10 million.
Other Fentanyl Drug Traffickers Causing Death And Mayhem Convicted in 2022
Fortunately, federal authorities are hot on the trail of other fentanyl drug traffickers that cause death and evil across the US.
In Abingdon, Virginia, a man who ordered 30,000 blue fentanyl pills from California and sold them in Virginia pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges.
Zachary R. Hutton, 21, pleaded guilty to one count of possessing with intent to distribute 400 g or more of fentanyl or a substance containing fentanyl.
Federal court documents noted that local, state, and federal agents investigated a flood of illicit drugs in Virginia that looked like oxycodone pills but were in various sizes and shapes. This suggested they were fake, illegal pills.
A federal investigation and laboratory test found that the API in those pills was fentanyl. Pills of this kind are often called M30 or Roxicodone. They usually have an M on one side and a 30 on the other side.
These illicit pills are considered especially dangerous by federal agents because they are laced with fentanyl to make them more potent. All it takes to die from a fentanyl overdose is a few grains of the illegal substance. It’s estimated that fentanyl is at least 50 times more potent than heroin.
US Postal Service Delivered Box Of Illegal Pills in June 2021
The federal investigation also stated that the US Postal Service delivered a package to Ryan Hutton in June 2021 that contained 560 grams of illegal pills.
Police and federal agents did a surveilled delivery of the illegal package when Hutton was taken into federal custody. He was also found to possess 800 more pressed pills. During the federal investigation, police found that the man had ordered pills containing fentanyl for at least four months.
He received more than 30,000 illegal fentanyl pills during that time and paid someone in California $20,000 for the last box.
Hutton will be sentenced in July 2022 and will face at least 10 years in federal prison. He also will have to pay a $50,000 fine to the US government.