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Press Release

Federal Grand Jury Indicts 6 Individuals on Drug and Gun Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a 12-count indictment, which was recently unsealed, charging Fresno residents Jose Duenas, 32, Hector Duenas, 26, Anthony Varela, 43, and Eduardo Mendoza Sanchez, 33, as well as a Los Angeles resident Adolfo Santa Cruz Alvarez, 22, and Mexican national Francisco Santa Cruz Alvarez, 26, with trafficking fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine, and illegally possessing firearms, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, in July 2023, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Hector Duenas’s residence in Fresno and seized a loaded firearm as well as over 5.5 pounds of methamphetamine, almost a pound of fentanyl, and 7 ounces of cocaine. Several months later, in September 2023, officers stopped two cars traveling in tandem occupied by Hector’s brother, Jose Duenas as well as two of his associates, Varela, and Mendoza Sanchez. From the two cars, the officers seized a loaded firearm and over 40 pounds of methamphetamine. Then, in January 2024, Adolfo Alvarez and Francisco Alvarez possessed more than 1 pound of cocaine with intent to distribute it to Jose Duenas. And in February 2024, Jose Duenas and Hector Duenas trafficked 14 ounces of fentanyl and more than a pound of methamphetamine. Additionally, they illegally possessed several firearms in furtherance of their drug trafficking crimes.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Fentanyl Overdose Response Team (FORT) (a multi-agency team composed of Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Fresno and Clovis Police Departments), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and IRS Criminal Investigation with assistance from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin J. Gilio is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, the defendants face a range of penalties and fines including maximums of 20 years, 40 years, and life in prison as well as fines between $250,000 and $10 million. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is part of Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge (S.O.S.) a program designed to reduce the supply of deadly synthetic opioids in high impact areas as well as identifying wholesale distribution networks and international and domestic suppliers. In July 2018, the Justice Department announced the creation of S.O.S., which is being implemented in the Eastern District of California and nine other federal districts.

The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. For more information about Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, please visit

Updated March 14, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses