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‘Breaking Bad’ grandmother accused of importing fentanyl while working at police union

Union claims it was unaware of drug activity

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Saturday 01 April 2023 23:50 BST
San Jose police union executive charged with distributing opioids

A top leader in the San Jose, California, police union has been accused by federal officials of using her post at the organisation to mask years of international drug dealing.

Joanne Marian Segovia, 64, executive director of the San Jose Police Officers Association, is charged with importing the synthetic opioid valeryl fentanyl and could face up to 20 years in prison, according to the Justice Department.

Officials say the union official received numerous shipments from Hong Kong, Hungary, India, and Singapore, using innocuous descriptions like  “Wedding Party Favors,” “Gift Makeup,” or “Chocolate and Sweets” on the manifests to hide their true contents.

When federal investigators intercepted some of the shipments, they “found that they contained thousands of pills of controlled substances, including the synthetic opioids Tramadol and Tapentadol.”

“Certain parcels were valued at thousands of dollars’ worth of drugs,” according to the DoJ.

She surrendered on Friday. The Independent has contacted Ms Segovia’s lawyer for comment.

Neighbours said they were shocked that Ms Segovia, known for her friendly, grandmotherly presence, was alleged to have participated in such conduct.

“She’s more the kind of person you would imagine who would have chocolate chip cookies or something ready for the kids, like a typical grandma,” neighbour Michael Galloway told The New York Post. “This is a complete surprise. There was nothing unusual going on there. It’s like ‘Breaking Bad.’ — you’re not expecting that at all! I mean, everyone is shocked.”

Ms Segovia, who has worked for the union since 2003, allegedly used her work email and UPS account to facilitate her deals. She is currently on leave from the SJPOA.

“I am just I’m angry because it’s a huge, huge letdown. To all of the men and women that are a part of our organisation,” union president Sean Pritchard told KRON. “It’s just so hard to comprehend. This person has been really been the grandma of the POA. It’s not the person that we’ve known for well over a decade.”

When interviewed by investigators in February, Ms Segovia told officials she had “no idea” about drug dealing and mentioned her work with the police. At another interview this month, she allegedly tried to blame her housekeeper for the drug shipments.

WhatsApp messages viewed by the government allegedly show her continuing to correspond with a contact in India after being contacted by authorities.

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