OR: Ten charged in alleged Klamath Falls drug trafficking ring that peddled fake oxycodone pills

A law enforcement investigation led to multiple arrests in Oregon, Nevada, and California in connection with the drug trafficking organization.

A federal grand jury in Medford issued an indictment on Thursday, charging the alleged leader and multiple associates of an alleged Klamath Falls drug trafficking ring that brought “large quantities” of methamphetamine and fentanyl into Oregon from California, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

Federal prosecutors said that 57-year-old Juan Jessie Martinez-Gil, a Mexican national living in Reno, Nevada, was the leader of the operation. He’s been charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute meth and fentanyl, plus additional charges for possession, distribution, and attempted distribution.

Nine others were charged for their alleged roles in the conspiracy — one more in Reno, four in Klamath Falls, two in Lakeview, one in the Klamath County community of Midland, and one in Lynwood, California.

According to prosecutors, Martinez-Gil and his associates worked to distribute meth and fentanyl in the form of counterfeit Oxycodone pills, a method that the US Drug Enforcement Administration recently flagged in a rare public safety alert, as the fake pills can carry a potentially lethal dose of the powerful synthetic opioid.

Law enforcement agencies conducted a coordinated sting on September 2, leading to the arrest of Martinez-Gil and the nine other co-defendants. Investigators served federal search warrants at five locations and on two vehicles, the US Attorney’s Office said — eventually seizing roughly 17 pounds of meth and 700 counterfeit Oxycodone pills.

Martinez-Gil made his initial appearance in federal court on Thursday in Portland before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. He was arraigned, entered a plea of not guilty, and was ordered detained pending an eight-day jury trial scheduled to begin on December 14.

If convicted, Martinez-Gil faces a maximum sentence of life in federal prison, five years’ supervised release, and a $10 million fine.

All of the other co-defendants have made their first appearances in federal court as well, either on Thursday or in days prior.

This case was investigated by the DEA with assistance from the Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET), which is made up of members from the Oregon State Police, Klamath Falls Police Department, and the U.S. National Guard. It is being prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

The DEA also received assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, the Central Point Police Department, the Torrance Police Department, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

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