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Press Release

Berkeley Resident Sentenced To Four Years In Prison In Tenderloin Fentanyl Distribution Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Co-Conspirator Brother Previously Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Participation in Same Scheme

SAN FRANCISCO – David Ordonez was sentenced to 48 months in prison for his role in a scheme to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Special Agent in Charge Bob P. Beris. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable William H. Orrick, United States District Judge. 

Ordonez, 20, of Berkeley, California, pleaded guilty to the charges on September 19, 2022. According to his plea application, Ordonez admitted he was guilty of conspiring to distribute fentanyl and distributing fentanyl and methamphetamine on multiple occasions in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. 

The government’s sentencing memorandum describes three separate sales, on February 9, February 24, and March 9, 2022, in which Ordonez sold drugs to an undercover officer working with the DEA and the San Francisco Police Department. The government argued that each of the transactions happened in the Tenderloin and in violation of state stay-away orders against Ordonez. The government argued that Ordonez sold the undercover officer around 59 grams of fentanyl and 30 grams of methamphetamine in exchange for $1,200 on February 24, 2022. The government also argued in its sentencing memorandum that Ordonez sold the same undercover officer around 28 grams of fentanyl and 71 grams of methamphetamine in exchange for $1,000 on March 10, 2022, after telling the undercover officer in a text message the day before the deal that Ordonez had “good” fentanyl. The government further argued that at his arrest in Berkeley on April 19, 2022, Ordonez ran from the police with a backpack containing around 1,118.8 grams—nearly 2.5 pounds—of fentanyl and around 98 grams of methamphetamine, along with other illegal drugs.

In his plea application, Ordonez admitted to conspiring with another person to work to sell more than 40 grams of fentanyl from February 9, 2022, to the date of his arrest on April 19, 2022. Ordonez also admitted to traveling to the area near 7th and Market Streets in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, where he sold more than 40 grams of fentanyl to an undercover agent on February 24, 2022, and more than 50 grams of methamphetamine on March 10, 2022. Ordonez admitted that on April 19, 2022, he ran from police, dropping his backpack, which contained more than 40 grams of fentanyl. In its sentencing memorandum, the government argued that physical surveillance and cell phone data showed that Ordonez and his brother, Juan Carlos Hernandez-Ordonez, routinely travelled together from their shared apartment in Berkeley into the Tenderloin before their April 2022 arrests. The government argued that the location data supported the inference that Ordonez made a living selling fentanyl on a regular basis at particular times of day and night in the Tenderloin. 

On May 3, 2022, a federal grand jury handed down an indictment charging Ordonez with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 40 grams and more of fentanyl, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(vi), two counts of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 40 grams and more of fentanyl, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(vi), and one count of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 50 grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(viii). Ordonez pleaded guilty to each of these counts. In addition to the prison term of 48 months, Judge Orrick also ordered Ordonez to serve four years of supervised release to begin after his prison term. Ordonez has been detained since his arrest and will begin serving his sentence immediately.

On September 29, 2022, Ordonez’s brother, Juan Carlos Hernandez Ordonez, pleaded guilty to count four of the indictment, charging him with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 40 grams and more of fentanyl, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(vi). On January 12, 2023, Judge Orrick sentenced Hernandez-Ordonez to a prison term of 18 months, followed by four years of supervised release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren 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.

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.

Updated February 10, 2023