CA: Activists demand answers after San Jose Police Officers Association exec’s drug trafficking bust

Police accountability groups and human rights advocates are raising questions about a yearslong drug trafficking case.

Last week federal drug trafficking charges were filed against Joanne Segovia, the executive director of San Jose’s Police Officers Association.

The San Jose Police Officers’ Association said they had no knowledge of what their 20-year employee was doing. They’ve launched an internal investigation.

The executive director of San Jose’s Police Officers Association turned herself in Friday March 31st after allegedly importing drugs from overseas and distributing them throughout the country.

Cameras were not allowed inside the federal courthouse Friday as 64-year-old Joanne Segovia made her first court appearance since being charged.

According to this criminal complaint, federal investigators say Segovia was charged with attempting to import illegal synthetic opioid drugs from overseas, specifically a form of fentanyl. Federal prosecutors say it was part of a scheme to distribute them in the U.S.

According to the federal criminal complaint, Homeland Security agents were first led to Segovia through an investigation that looked into a network they say ships controlled substances made in India.

Investigators say she used her personal and office computers to order the drugs and agreed to distribute them elsewhere in the U.S.

“This is looking like a female version of ‘Breaking Bad’ when you look at someone who is the least likely of suspects,” said legal analyst Steven Clark.

The San Jose Police Officers’ Association said Thursday that they had no knowledge of what their 20-year employee was doing.

“We are in the midst of our own internal investigation,” said Sean Pritchard, President of the San Jose Police Officer’s Association. “We want to make sure that we’re being thorough as we look back through all of the things that we’ve learned through the federal investigation to ensure that everything is in the integrity of this union.”

So far the POA says no officer information has been compromised.

They described Segovia as the “Grandma of the POA” who used to help fallen officers’ families and organize fundraisers for officers who have sick children.

They did not know what her exact intentions were with the drugs.

Federal investigators say Segovia had 61 shipments mailed to her home between 2015 and 2023 from multiple countries and found thousands of pills.

In initial interviews with investigators, Segovia denied criminal activity before later placing the blame on her housekeeper.

ABC7 spoke with Segovia’s attorney, William Edelman, at the federal courthouse following her court appearance, he declined to comment.

Legal analyst Steven Clark said Friday’s court appearance could be the start of many more developments.

“This was a complaint, but you will now see an indictment, which I think will bring many more charges to Ms. Segovia.”

Segovia was released with no bail amount set, under strict conditions from the judge.

Her next court appearance is on April 28.

On Wednesday, activists from different community groups gathered outside San Jose City Hall asking why officials are conducting an internal investigation instead of an independent investigation with community oversight.

“We need to not have the POA just say, ‘we’re going to do an internal investigation.’ That doesn’t work,” Laurie Valdez said.

Bill Armaline, criminal justice chair for the NAACP San Jose/Silicon Valley, said they have key questions.

“If the allegations are substantiated, who else was a part of this international network? Were local agencies involved in the activity? Aware of the activity? Or in positions to know about the activity,” Armaline said.

Activists want city leaders to stop receiving funds from the association and are demanding Segovia’s mugshot be released.

“We don’t see how a city government, the City of San Jose in good faith can negotiate with the San Jose Police Officers Association when it’s currently under a Federal investigation for running a drug ring,” Raj Jayadev of Silicon Valley Debug said.

From 2015 to this year, federal investigators say Segovia had around 61 shipments of synthetic opioid drugs mailed to her home. She allegedly used her police union work computer to place orders. Shipments came from India, China, and Spain to name a few. Federal prosecutors says it was part of a scheme to distribute drugs in the U.S.

“How many people died because she brought that stuff into our community?” Laurie Valdez said.

April 27 of last year, 18-year-old Chloe Harden lost her life to fentanyl poisoning in San Jose. Her mother, Marlene Harden, says she hopes this case brings attention to a larger problem.

“I feel like I’m having a really hard time being heard about the fight against fentanyl,” Harden said.

Segovia was released under strict conditions until her next court appearance on April 28.

“I would really want her to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I know she’s facing 20 years maximum and I just don’t feel like that’s enough time,” Harden said.

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