SAN FRANCISCO –Juan Carlos Hernandez-Ordonez pleaded guilty today in United States District Court to a federal charge of distributing 40 grams or more of fentanyl in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Special Agent in Charge Bob P. Beris. David Ordonez, the brother of Hernandez-Ordonez, pleaded guilty in the same case on September 15, 2022, to conspiring with Hernandez-Ordonez to distribute fentanyl and to charges involving distribution of fentanyl and methamphetamine.
In the plea agreement he entered today, Hernandez-Ordonez, 18, admitted to traveling time and again with his older brother David Ordonez, 20, from an apartment they shared in Berkeley to the Tenderloin District of San Francisco to sell narcotics. The Tenderloin contains an open-air illegal drug market which includes the 7th Street and Market Street area. Hernandez-Ordonez described in his plea agreement that on March 9, 2022, he and his brother David Ordonez travelled from their Berkeley apartment to the Tenderloin to sell fentanyl. At approximately 5:30 p.m., a buyer approached him on the southwest corner of 7th Street and Market Street and asked for “yellow.” Hernandez-Ordonez knew yellow as slang for fentanyl, and he sold the buyer just over two grams of fentanyl in exchange for $40 in cash. Unbeknownst to Hernandez-Ordonez, the buyer was an undercover law enforcement agent.
Hernandez-Ordonez further admitted in his plea agreement that on March 29, 2022, he exchanged text messages with the same undercover law enforcement agent and negotiated the sale of 2.5 ounces of fentanyl for $1000. That day, Hernandez-Ordonez again travelled with his brother David Ordonez from their Berkeley apartment to the Tenderloin. Hernandez-Ordonez described in his plea agreement that at about 8:30 p.m. he met with the undercover agent in the Tenderloin’s Stevenson Alley, near 7th Street and Market Street. The undercover agent again asked for yellow. Hernandez-Ordonez walked away to meet his brother and returned with fentanyl. In Stevenson Alley, Hernandez-Ordonez weighed out the drugs on a digital scale and admitted he then sold the undercover agent approximately 59 grams of fentanyl in exchange for $1000 in cash.
Earlier in this case’s proceedings, David Ordonez admitted to the narcotics trafficking charges against him. On September 15, he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy with Hernandez-Ordonez spanning from February 9 through April 19, 2022, to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute at least 40 grams of fentanyl. David Ordonez also pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing with intent to distribute and distributing at least 40 grams of fentanyl, one count occurring on February 22, 2022, and the other on April 19, 2022. He further pleaded guilty to possessing and distributing at least 50 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine on March 10, 2022.
United States District Judge William H. Orrick scheduled a sentencing hearing for Hernandez-Ordonez on January 12, 2023, at 1:30 p.m. David Ordonez is scheduled for a sentencing hearing before the same judge on December 15, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. Both defendants remain in custody pending their sentencing hearings.
Each count to which Hernandez-Ordonez and David Ordonez pleaded guilty contains both maximum and mandatory minimum penalties. Both Hernandez-Ordonez and David Ordonez pleaded guilty to separate counts of distributing 40 or more grams of fentanyl in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B)(vi). David Ordonez also pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a conspiracy to distribute at least 40 grams of fentanyl in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B)(vi) and to one count of distributing at least 50 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B)(viii). The statutory penalty for each one of these counts is a mandatory minimum of five years imprisonment (absent qualifying for statutory relief from the mandatory minimum) and a maximum of 40 years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $5,000,000, and a minimum of 4 years of supervision following release from prison, with a maximum of life. However, any sentence following a conviction will be imposed by a court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren M. Harding is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Jasmine Sanders and Amala James. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by DEA and the San Francisco Police Department Narcotics Division.
One Pill Can Kill: Beware of pills bought on the street: One Pill Can Kill. Fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance, is a highly potent opiate that can be diluted with cutting agents to create counterfeit pills that purport to mimic the effects of Oxycodone, Percocet, and other drugs, but can be obtained at a lower cost. However, very small variations in the amount or quality of fentanyl creates huge effects on the potency of the counterfeit pills and can easily cause death. Fentanyl has now become the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in the United States. Counterfeit, fentanyl-laced pills are usually shaped and colored to resemble pills that are sold legitimately at pharmacies. For example, counterfeit pills known as M30s mimic Oxycodone, but when sold on the street they routinely contain fentanyl. These tablets are round and often light blue in color, though they may be made in many colors, and have “M” and “30” imprinted on opposite sides of the pill.