Oregon, California drug dealers face prison time for fentanyl trafficking



(The Center Square) – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon announced today that three southern Oregon drug traffickers, including the head of a drug trafficking organization, pleaded guilty to several charges in federal court after investigations by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Medford resident office.

Former Reno, Nevada resident Juan Jessie Martinez-Gil pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl. Additionally, Lakeview, Oregon resident Candice Nadine Mckee, 31, pleaded guilty Monday to possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl. Plus, Jessie Cole Merkel, 31, of Redding, California, pleaded guilty to one count of distributing fentanyl in a separate case.

Between 2019 and 2021 Martinez-Gil, the head of a Klamath Falls-area drug trafficking organization, worked with several associates, including McKee, to possess and distribute large amounts of methamphetamine and fentanyl. They did so in the form of counterfeit Oxycodone pills, in and around Klamath Falls.

Law enforcement arrested Martinez-Gil and several of his co-conspirators in September 2021. Five locations and two vehicles were searched using federal search warrants. During the investigation, DEA special agents seized about 17 pounds of methamphetamine and 700 counterfeit Oxycodone pills.

Martinez-Gil will receive a prison sentence on February 22, 2024, from U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane. The drug dealer faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum of life in prison. Mckee, who faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, will be sentenced on the same day.

Similarly, between February and April 2022, Merkel, known for dealing drugs in northern California, trafficked fentanyl north to Oregon. He sold fentanyl to undercover law enforcement officers twice and was arrested on April 14, 2022, while traveling from California to Oregon.

Merkel will receive a prison sentence on February 22, 2024, by Judge McShane. The maximum sentence he can receive is 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and three years of supervised release.

The DEA Medford Resident Office investigated Merkel with help from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Oregon State Police, and the Central Point Police Department.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon prosecuted both cases.



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