Trio Indicted and Arrested in Fentanyl Distribution Conspiracy Spanning From California to D.C.

Trio Indicted and Arrested in Fentanyl Distribution Conspiracy Spanning From California to D.C.

            WASHINGTON – Federal law enforcement arrested one member of the conspiracy last month, and two remaining members of the conspiracy, this morning, for a fentanyl distribution conspiracy responsible for bringing thousands of fake blue Oxycodone (M30) pills, containing fentanyl, from California to D.C., announced U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, and DEA Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget, of the Washington Division, and Chief Robert J. Contee, III, of the Metropolitan Police Department.

            Hector David Valdez, 25, of Los Angeles, California, Charles Jeffrey Taylor, 19, of Washington D.C., and Craig Eastman, 19, of Washington D.C., are charged in an indictment with conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing fentanyl. Valdez was arrested in Los Angeles, California, on March 13, 2023 and was ordered detained by the Central District of California pending his transfer to the District of Columbia. Eastman and Taylor were arrested on March 22, 2023, and made their initial appearance in the District of Columbia this afternoon. They will have a detention hearing before United States Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather on March 28, 2023.

            According to the indictment, from on or about January 2021 to February 24, 2023, Valdez, Taylor, and Eastman conspired together to distribute 400 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing fentanyl.  The indictment further charges Eastman with three additional counts of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, including one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl within 1,000 feet of a protected location (a school and a public housing apartment).

            Valdez was arrested on February 24, 2023, in the Central District of California. During a search of his residence, law enforcement recovered over 4.4 kilograms of blue M30 pills and a half-kilogram brick of powder, which tested positive for fentanyl. Valdez was ordered detained pending trial and is currently being transferred to the District of Columbia for prosecution. This morning, law enforcement arrested Taylor and Eastman inside Taylor’s residence and seized seven firearms while executing a search warrant.

            The conspiracy charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison up to life; the possession with intent to distribute charge carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and the possession within 1,000 feet of a protected location carries a mandatory minimum sentence of one year up to 40 years in prison. The sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

            The investigation of this case had the sponsorship and support of the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF specializes in the investigation and prosecution of drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and related criminal enterprises.

            The prosecutions followed a joint investigation by the DEA Washington Division in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Washington Field Division, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with additional support from the DEA Los Angeles and Riverside Field Offices. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Henek, Andy Wang, and Matthew Kinskey of the Violence Reduction and Trafficking Offenses (VRTO) Section.

            An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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