Watch CBS News

San Jose police officers' union executive charged with attempted importing of synthetic opioids

The executive director of the San Jose Police Officers' Association has been charged with the illicit importing of synthetic opioids to the United States, according to a federal criminal complaint filed by the Northern District of California, U.S. Attorney's Office. 

Joanne Marian Segovia, 64, had been charged with attempting to import valeryl fentanyl, an analogue of the synthetic opioid that has driven the overdose crisis in the United States, said the U.S. Attorney's office in a news release. Segovia came under investigation in late 2022, officials said in the complaint, which was unsealed on Tuesday. 

Segovia was apprehended as part of an ongoing Homeland Security investigation that was looking into a network shipping controlled substances into the Bay Area from abroad, the complaint alleged. Her information was found in the phone of another network operative, but no further information was available in the complaint or news release.

Segovia was first interviewed by federal investigators in Feb. 2023 and continued to allegedly order controlled substances after that. She was interviewed again on March 14, 2023, where she tried to blame her housekeeper for the packages, WhatsApp messages and cash transactions. An investigator said he believed Segovia had "provided false information" to investigators. 

The complaint alleges that Segovia used her personal and office computers to order thousands of opioid and other pills to her home address. Segovia also allegedly agreed to distribute the drugs in the United States. Between Oct. 2015 and Jan. 2023, Segovia allegedly had at least 61 shipments mailed to her home, the complaint said. 

In addition to using her home to receive packages, Segovia allegedly used her office at the San Jose Police Officers' Association to distribute the pills. According to her LinkedIn page, Segovia was the executive director of the association for over 19 years, beginning in July 2003. On its website, the association says it represents members on matters like wages, benefits and working conditions. Segovia is no longer listed on the website and it is not clear what her role entailed. 

The association did not answer multiple calls placed by CBS News on Thursday morning. At the time of publication, the association had not responded to two e-mail inquiries sent by CBS News. 

At least one shipment was made using the UPS account of the police association, federal officials said. 

Despite efforts to stop opioid abuse, overdose deaths rising 01:58

The packages were sent from overseas, including Hong Kong, Hungary, India and Singapore. Shipping manifests for the packages described them as "Wedding Party Favors," candies, or makeup products, the complaint alleged, but between July 2019 and Jan. 2023, officials intercepted and opened five packages and found that they contained "thousands of pills of controlled substances." 

The pills included the synthetic opioids Tramadol and Tapentadol, and some parcels held thousands of dollars' worth of drugs, federal officials said.

Segovia also allegedly used encrypted messages on WhatsApp to plan the reception and sending of pills, including a three-year period during which she allegedly exchanged hundreds of messages with someone using an India country code, the complaint said. Those messages discussed details for shipping and payment and contained hundreds of pictures of shipping materials, payment receipts and confirmations, and pills and tablets, the complaint said. 

On Mar. 13, 2023, federal agents seized a parcel in Kentucky that was addressed to Segovia. It contained valeryl fentanyl and originated from China three days prior and the contents were declared to be a "clock." 

Segovia faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted. 

Her first court appearance is scheduled for March 31.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.