The executive director of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association was nabbed in a national fentanyl distribution ring after authorities said she ordered thousands of opioids from abroad in packages labeled “Wedding Party Favors,” “Gift Makeup,” and “Chocolate and Sweets.”
A criminal complaint filed on Monday charges Joanne Marian Segovia, 64, with an attempt to unlawfully import valeryl fentanyl, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a news release.
“This is an incredibly disturbing allegation. No one is above the law, regardless of who their employer is,” San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan said in a statement to KRON4.
Segovia is on leave from her position with the union, according to sanjoseinside.com.
In a statement, union spokesman Tom Saggau said the union was informed Friday of the news and is cooperating in the investigation.
“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,” the statement on the union’s website said.
Segovia was caught as part of a Homeland Security investigation into a drug network that shipped hundreds of parcels from abroad containing hundreds of thousands of pills to 48 states from the San Francisco Bay Area, officials said.
Segovia had 61 shipments mailed to her home from countries including Hong Kong, Hungary, India, and Singapore for about seven years between October 2015 and January 2023, authorities allege.
Between July 2019 and January 2023, officials intercepted five shipments. Inside were thousands of pills, including the synthetic opioids Tramadol and Tapentadol. Some parcels were valued at thousands of dollars.
Segovia used encrypted WhatsApp messages to plan shipments, allegedly exchanging hundreds of messages with someone using a phone with a country code in India between January 2020 and March 2023.
“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 news release said.
Segovia used her office to distribute drugs, in one case sending a supplier a photo of a shipment made using the UPS account of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, authorities allege.
A complaint details unusual shipments, the suspect’s conversations with agents about them and numerous text messages suggesting a double life.
In one instance, on March 13, agents seized an unusual parcel in Kentucky described as a clock from China. Inside was a disassembled clock kit containing fentanyl-laced square and round adhesive stickers.
“I have not seen drugs sent in this form before,” wrote David Vargas, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, in his affidavit.
In February, Segovia told agents that she had only ordered “supplements” and “nothing out of the ordinary” and claimed to “work for the police department.”
She claimed to have never ordered or received prescription medications through the mail and said she would never do so, adding, “I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
She said she recognized that buying prescription medications on the internet was unsafe and that doing so was unlawful and “asking for trouble.” She claimed to have no idea why her name and address were found in the phone of a suspected drug trafficker and refused to allow agents to view her CashApp transactions.
In another interview, she told agents she had nothing to do with the orders and blamed the ordering on a woman she identified as a family friend and housekeeper.
She said the woman’s culpability occurred to her “like a lightbulb” after meeting with agents in February. She claimed the money referenced in her CashApp account was the amount she had paid the woman for her housekeeping work.
She said this woman impersonated her on WhatsApp and said that this woman was able to do so because she “knows so much about me.”
She said she didn’t want to “throw [this woman] to the wolves” but that she wanted to be “honest” with agents.
Agents found a chat that started in January 2020 and continued for over three years on her phone with a user with a number with India’s country code containing hundreds of messages referring to “soma” or “orange pills” and discussing shipping and payment. The orange pills referred to Tapentadol, an opioid, the complaint said.
The chat also contained 235 images depicting pills, shipping labels, packaging, and payment receipts or confirmations.
In an exchange from the “INDIA CHAT” in April 2021, Segovia was directed to send a package to a woman in North Carolina.
On April 7, 2021, Segovia’s account sent the photo of a UPS receipt containing a pre-written account and return address signed by “J. SEGOVIA.” The return address on the UPS receipt was 1151 North Fourth Street, in San Jose, California, the address of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association.
Typo-laden texts in the complaint suggest she hadn’t been forthcoming with agents and led a busy double life.
June 14, 2021: “Sorry, i had 50 new officers starting today so if I’ve been tied up all morning. I’ll be back in the office within an hour and I’ll take care of all of it! Anynews on the soma??”
May 2, 2022: “Im so sorry, im on a business trip because we had 2 officers that got shot! I should be home tomorrow night so ill get them shipped as soon as i can.”
July 4, 2022: “Im going to put whats app on my computer so I’ll have it if something weird goes on with my phone. So i need to send you $900 for the orange pills that are on their way, are they on their way?? My [family member] is going on vacation so i want to give her enough to last but that is going to make me short, do you know when they are coming?
September 12, 2022: “Yes, i got the 500 mg soma. I also got 180 of the orange pills.”
January 23, 2023: “I sent the $2300, but it won’t let me send the 375… too much in one day. Ill send that tomorrow!”
The complaint said that Segovia stopped ordering controlled substances from her previous supplier after agents interviewed her in February and began ordering controlled substances from a new supplier, shipping from China.
If convicted, Segovia faces up to 20 years in prison and would have to pay a fine of up to $250,000.
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