Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Drug Task Force Reports Seizing 5K Fentanyl Pills

Posted By on Tue, Mar 30, 2021 at 11:08 AM

click to enlarge Fentanyl, cocaine and firearms seized as a part of a weeks long investigation stemming from a string of fentanyl overdoses. - HUMBOLDT COUNTY DRUG TASK FORCE
  • Humboldt County Drug Task Force
  • Fentanyl, cocaine and firearms seized as a part of a weeks long investigation stemming from a string of fentanyl overdoses.
The Humboldt County Drug Task Force reported today making a handful of arrests and seizing more than 5,000 counterfeit Percocet pills containing fentanyl after a weeks-long investigation initiated after multiple fentanyl overdoses were reported in the Hoopa Valley.

According to a  press release, the investigation started March 5 when a Humboldt County Sheriff's deputy working in the Trinity Valley reported to the task force a potential overdose death attributed to pills known on the street as "perc30," which were allegedly being sold by Christian "Punky" Colegrove, 23, and a 17 year old. A little more than a week later, a 13 year old reported overdosed after taking the same pills but was revived when responding officers used Narcan.

The investigation reportedly led to Anthony Dion Medina, 24, of Eureka, who was allegedly picking up "large quantities" of pills in the San Jose area and then selling them in Humboldt County. After as surveillance operation, task force agents reported observing Medina returning from a trip to San Jose along State Route 299 when he stopped in Willow Creek to meet Colegrove and Warren "Pops" Sloan, 23.

Agents contacted the men and served as each warrant on Medina's vehicle and reported finding a total of 5,002 "perc30" fentanyl pills. A passenger and an infant were also in Medina's vehicle, according to the press release.

When agents served a search warrant at Medina's residence in Eureka, they reported finding a number of firearms — including a 9 mm "ghost gun" with a 30-round magazine drum — and more than 8 grams of cocaine.

Local officials have become increasing concerned about fentanyl locally, as it has been linked to an increasing number of overdose deaths, following a national trend. After being found in one overdose victim locally in each 2016, 2017 and 2018, the coroner's office found fentanyl in at least seven of the county's 46 overdose deaths in 2019.

"Something changed," Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Lt. Sam Williams told the Journal last year. "It's a marked difference."

Fentanyl is considered to be especially dangerous because of its potency. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, a lethal dose of heroin is generally considered to be roughly 30 milligrams, while a 3-milligram dose of fentanyl — which looks like a few grains of salt — is enough to kill an average adult male. That potency makes it attractive for drug traffickers, officials say, as a tiny bit can be used to stretch illicit street drugs or counterfeit pharmaceuticals. But if the drug isn't blended sparingly, thoroughly and evenly, it can prove deadly.

Read more about local officials' concerns about fentanyl in the Journal's Feb. 6, 2020, cover story "Third Wave."

Sloan was issued a misdemeanor  citation on suspicion of loitering with intent to purchase drugs, while Colegrove was taken into custody on active warrants. Medina and his passenger were arrested on suspicion of possessing and transporting a controlled substance for sale, child endangerment and conspiracy.

The task force asks anyone with information related to this investigation to call 267-9976.

See the full task force press release copied below.


PRESS RELEASE

On March 5th of 2021 the Humboldt County Drug Task Force (HCDTF) was advised by a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Deputy working the Trinity River Division of a potential overdose death in the Hoopa Valley related to suspected pressed pills containing fentanyl. The reported pills were being referred to on the streets as “perc30”. The deputy reported that three Hoopa males, Warren “Pops” Sloan 23 years old, Christian “Punky” Colegrove 23 years old, and a 17-year-old juvenile were alleged to be selling the “perc30” pills in Hoopa. The HCDTF initiated an investigation into the source of suspected fentanyl pills that potentially led to the overdose.

On March 10th of 2021 the HCDTF was contacted by the Hoopa Valley Tribal Police Department (HVTPD) in regard to an overdose of a 13-year-old child. Officers were able to use Narcan to save this child’s life. The HVTPD reported this child also took a “perc30” pill and it was alleged that he got the pill from Christian “Punky” Colegrove as well.

The HCDTF Investigation led to the identity of the source of “perc30” fentanyl pills into the Hoopa Valley as Anthony Dion Medina (24 years old from Eureka). Agents learned that Medina was picking up large quantities of pills in the San Jose area, transporting them back to Humboldt County, and selling them to multiple customers.

On Monday March 29th, 2021 HCDTF agents conducted surveillance on Medina as he returned from a trip to San Jose. Agents observed Medina enter Humboldt County on Highway 299 before he stopped in the parking lot of a business in the 39000 block of Highway 299 in Willow Creek. When Medina parked, he was approached on foot by Colegrove and Sloan. HCDTF agents detained all three males as well as a female passenger in Medina’s vehicle, Veronica Morales-Rangel (22 years old from Chico). Morales-Rangel is Medina’s girlfriend and their 6-week-old baby was in a car seat in the back of the vehicle.

Agents served a search warrant on Medina, Morales-Rangel, and their vehicle. Morales-Rangel was found to be wearing a fanny pack that was on her waist. Inside the fanny pack agents located 1,002 suspected “perc30” fentanyl pills. On the back seat of the car agents located a large Kool-Aid container. The top 1/3 of the container was legitimate and contained Kool-Aid powder. The bottom 2/3 of the container was found to contain a false compartment with a lid that unscrewed from the bottom. Inside the hidden compartment agents located 4,000 “perc30” fentanyl pills packaged in 4 separate bags containing 1,000 pills each. The fentanyl pills were found within a short distance of the 6-week old child on the backseat of the car. In total agents seized 5,002 fentanyl pills.

HCDTF agents contacted Child Welfare Services (CWS) and reported the potential danger to the child. CWS employees responded to the traffic stop, conducted an investigation, and took the child into their custody for safety reasons.

Sloan was found to be in possession of approx. $1800 and admitted he was there to purchase pills from Medina. Sloan was issued a misdemeanor citation and released for the following charge:

• HS 11532(a) Loitering with intent to purchase drugs

Colegrove was found to have two active felony warrants and one active misdemeanor warrant for his arrest. Colegrove was booked at the Humboldt County Jail for his three warrants.

Medina and Morales-Rangel were transported to the Humboldt County Jail where they were booked for the following charges:

• H&S 11351(a) Possession of controlled substance for sale
• H&S 11352(a) Transportation of controlled substances for sale
• H&S 11352(b) Transportation of controlled substances across non-contiguous counties
• PC 273a(a) Child endangerment
• PC 182 Conspiracy by two or more people to commit a crime
• PC 1203.2 Probation Violation

HCDTF agents responded to the 2400 block of 7th St. in Eureka and served a search warrant on Medina’s residence. Inside the residence agents located a 9mm “ghost gun” with a 30 round magazine drum. Agents also located an FN 57 handgun and a Glock 19 9mm handgun. Agents found 4 packages of cocaine totaling 8.7 grams.

Once agents returned to their office, they used a TruNarc Analyzer machine to test samples of the 5,002 pills seized. The pills returned positive for fentanyl.

HCDTF agents are continuing their investigation into the overdoses in the Hoopa Valley and hope to be able to forward charges to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office soon. We would like to thank the HCSO and HVTPD for their assistance with this investigation.

Anyone with information related to this investigation or other narcotics related crimes are encouraged to call the Humboldt County Drug Task Force at 707-267-9976.
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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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