Recent arrests highlight growing fentanyl problem in Fresno County

Vanessa Vasconcelos Image
Friday, January 20, 2023
Recent arrests highlight growing fentanyl problem in Fresno County
A federal indictment against one of the suspects alleges he was found with 11 pounds of fentanyl during a traffic stop on January 3rd.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Authorities say two recent arrests took tens of thousands of fentanyl pills off of Fresno County streets.

In a press conference Thursday, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies announced increased efforts to fight fentanyl, including two high-profile arrests.

Pictures released by the Fresno County Sheriff's Office show the culmination of a nearly three months long investigation surrounding the arrest of Uriel Sotelo Patino.

The coordinated effort between Clovis Police, Selma Police and the DEA seized nearly 160,000 fentanyl pills with a street value of nearly $1 million.

The 35-year-old is one of two men accused of possessing with the intent to distribute fentanyl.

A federal indictment against Pedro Miranda-Muro alleges he was found with 11 pounds of Fentanyl during a traffic stop January 3rd.

US Attorney Phillip Talbert says the opioid problem has gone from bad to worse with the introduction of fentanyl.

"Volume is up. Purity is up. Prices are way down," said Talbert.

"None of us have the resources to investigate or prosecute our way out of this crisis. We have to have education and awareness as part of the plan otherwise were doomed," added Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp.

Smittcamp says combatting the problem is a collaborative effort including law enforcement and community partners.

"We've had dealers that we've interviewed during investigations and they say we've seen the billboards. Sometimes, they say its hard to get pills in Fresno County because of all those billboards," said Smittcamp.

Fresno County's education and awareness campaign surrounding the deadly drug is a model for cities and counties across the country.

"Every time we talk to a group of 100 kids, 200 kids, 10 kids, if one of them gets the message, we are winning," Smittcamp said.

With the federal charges, the suspects face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.

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