A San Jose, California, man is facing federal drug trafficking charges after he allegedly arranged the sale of approximately 80,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and 66 pounds of methamphetamine in Oregon City drug deals.
Oscar Manuel Rosas Gaona, 20, has been charged with conspiring to possess and possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine.
In April 2023, special agents from Homeland Security Investigations arranged to purchase 10,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl for 70 cents per pill (for a total of $7,000), court documents allege.
According to reporting by The Oregonian‘s Maxine Bernstein, the drug buy went down in an Oregon City parking lot.
The agents, working in partnership with the Clackamas County Interagency Task Force, completed the arranged purchase with Rosas on April 14. The informant continued to negotiate further drug buys, later requesting 65 pounds of methamphetamine, Bernstein reported.
As the investigation continued, a second purchase from Rosas Gaona was organized and, on April 27, agents obtained an additional 70,000 fentanyl pills. The next day, on April 28, 2023, Rosas Gaona began arranging the delivery and sale of 65 pounds of meth.
The following week, the methamphetamine had arrived in Oregon, and Rosas Gaona was apprehended by federal agents. A blue suitcase filled with bags of methamphetamine was seized from one of Rosas Gaona’s alleged associates that same Thursday.
Rosas made his initial appearance in federal court Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Armistead and was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.
The drug seizures are the latest in a significant escalation of fentanyl and methamphetamine confiscated by state police, county law enforcement and federal agents in recent weeks.
A Washington man was arrested with 11.5 pounds of powdered fentanyl last Friday — enough to fatally dose the entire Portland metro area nearly twice over, according to police.
Earlier that same week, another man was caught with almost three times that amount of powdered fentanyl and more than 50 pounds of methamphetamine near Salem.
The stops are not part of a coordinated investigation, Bernstein reports, but narcotics investigators are working to get potent and potentially deadly fentanyl off the streets.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. A three-milligram dose of fentanyl — which amounts to just a few grains of the substance — is enough to kill an average adult male.
The cheap but powerful street drug comes into the state mostly from Mexico, where pills designed to look like legitimate painkillers are pressed with fentanyl made from chemicals produced in China and India. Drug traffickers funnel them north by car, truck, bus, plane and even the mail, according to investigators.
Rainbow fentanyl, which began appearing in several forms in cities across the country last year, is a brightly colored version of the highly toxic synthetic opioid.
Versions seized in the Portland area resemble thick pieces of brightly colored sidewalk chalk or small multi-colored pills sometimes referred to as “Skittles.”
The Clackamas County Interagency Task Force, led by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, works to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating in Clackamas County, and reduce illegal drugs and related crimes throughout the community.
The task force is comprised of members of the sheriff’s office, Canby Police Department, Oregon State Police, Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI.
This case is being prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin, assistant U.S. attorney for Oregon.
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