Arrests Made in “Operation Broken Bonds,” an Investigation into Violent Crime, Drug Trafficking, and Gun Trafficking in the Central Valley Committed by Gang Members and Associates
FRESNO, Calif. — Henry Cox, 23, and Abel Lozano, 29, both of Sanger, pleaded guilty today to trafficking over 500 grams of fentanyl. Lozano also pleaded guilty to trafficking over 500 grams of methamphetamine and over 100 grams of a fentanyl analogue, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, investigation, dubbed “Operation Killer High,” began after a series of victims overdosed on counterfeit oxycodone M30 pills laced with fentanyl in the Fresno area. The investigation aimed to search for the drug dealers believed to have supplied the toxic pills that caused the spike in fentanyl-related overdoses. The operation uncovered a large drug-trafficking ring led by co-defendant Horacio Torrecillas Urias Jr., 22, of Fresno, the self-proclaimed “M30 king of Fresno.”
On Feb. 11, 2022, federal officers executed a search warrant at Lozano’s residence and found over a kilogram of fentanyl, 991 grams of p-flourofentanyl (an analogue more potent than fentanyl), and 907 grams of methamphetamine. According to Lozano’s plea agreement, he intended to distribute those drugs to other persons.
Also in February 2022, members of the investigative team intercepted communications between Henry Cox and others in which Cox discussed his plan to obtain and sell thousands of M30 fentanyl pills. The recorded calls led investigators to conduct a traffic stop on a car on Feb. 17, 2022. Officers searched the car and found about 20,000 fentanyl pills and almost 1 kilogram of fentanyl powder. According to Cox’s plea agreement, the drugs were part of the conspiracy in which he joined.
Charges are pending against Horacio Torrecillas Urias Jr and the other 15 co-defendants. The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is the result of an investigation by FORT (a multi-agency team composed of Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Fresno Police Department), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Clovis Police Department, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, and the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the Bakersfield Police Department and the California Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin J. Gilio and Laurel J. Montoya are prosecuting the case.
Sentencing for Cox and Lozano is set for Aug. 28, 2023, before U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Thurston. Cox and Lozano face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine up to $10 million. The actual sentences, however, will 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.
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.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.