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Press Release

Traffic Stop in Fresno County Results in Charges for Washington Residents Traveling with 300,000 Fentanyl Pills

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

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Joseph Hill, 40, of Mount Vernon, Washington, and Brigit Marie Bissell, 27, of Bothell, Washington, charging them with conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, on Jan. 14, 2022, Hill and Bissell were traveling northbound on Interstate 5 in Fresno County, when stopped by police for speeding. When the officer had his narcotics detection dog run a sweep around the car, the dog alerted to the presence of narcotics. A subsequent search revealed three bags containing approximately 75 pounds of fentanyl or over 300,000 fentanyl pills.

This case is the product of an investigation by the California Highway Patrol, the Fresno High Impact Investigations Team, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Antonio J. Pataca is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Hill and Bissell face a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. 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.

Updated January 27, 2022

Drug Trafficking