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California drug trafficker gets over six years in federal prison in Oregon

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(The Center Square) – A Southern California drug trafficker was sentenced to federal prison this week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon announced this week.

Pedro Keny Verganza, 39, of Los Angeles County, California, received a federal prison sentence of 75 months plus three years of supervised release.

Albany Police Department investigators received information in December 2019 that someone named “Pelucha” was the supply source for illegal narcotics transported by a California-based drug trafficking organization from California to Oregon for sale and redistribution.

A deeper investigation found that, in mid-February 2020, a courier working with or on Pelucha’s behalf was expected to go to a fast-food restaurant in Albany, Oregon, to sell methamphetamine and heroin.

Law enforcement officers observed the courier on February 15, 2020. They saw someone whom they later determined was Verganza arrive at the fast-food restaurant with another person.

Law enforcement searched their vehicle and found a cardboard box containing “three large heat-sealed and shrink-wrapped packages containing approximately three and a quarter pounds of methamphetamine and two and a quarter pounds of heroin,” according to a release.

Subsequent lab tests later revealed the man’s fingerprints and palm prints inside the box and on the packages of narcotics.

Verganza was charged by federal criminal complaint on February 16, 2020. He was charged with possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine. In August 2021, a federal grand jury in Eugene indicted him on the same charge. A charge of possessing with intent to distribute heroin was via a superseding indictment. He was found guilty on both charges in October 2023.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigated the case with help from the Albany Police Department and Linn County Sheriff’s Office. Adam E. Delph and John C. Brassell, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon prosecuted it.

The prison sentence comes as industrial levels of fentanyl are present in Oregon, as The Center Square previously reported.

In one May 2023 weekend alone, Portland, Oregon, had eight drug overdose deaths, six of which were likely fentanyl-related, according to The Associated Press. Plus, overdose deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled in Oregon, from 226 in 2020 to 508 in 2021, the report said.

All of this comes as the state liberalized its drug laws. Oregon voters passed Measure 110 in 2020. It decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs, like heroin, meth, cocaine, and fentanyl.

Since this law took effect, drug overdose deaths and homelessness have increased in Oregon, according to Stateline. Oregon has also seen a drop in convention and hotel bookings in response to the law, the report said.

Fentanyl is now the most common cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 49, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Additionally, drug dealers lace other drugs with fentanyl, putting even people who did not plan to consume the drug at risk.

“It’s crazy out there,” Rick Treleaven, the chief executive officer at BestCare Treatment Services, told Oregon Public Broadcasting in May. “This is a very dangerous time to be a drug addict in Oregon.”

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