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Press Release

Santa Cruz County Drug Dealer Sentenced To Nineteen Years’ Imprisonment For A Federal Drug Crime

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Defendant Fired a Pistol at Police Officers While a Fugitive from Federal Prosecution

SAN JOSE – Paul Garcia was sentenced today to 235 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to methamphetamine trafficking, announced United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Jennifer L. Cicolani. The sentence was handed down by the Hon. Edward J. Davila, United States District Judge.

Garcia, 34, formerly of Santa Cruz County, was arrested in July 2019 after Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Deputies seized a stash of drugs in a Santa Cruz motel room Garcia was using. The stash included more than two pounds of heroin, 440 grams of methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, and pills. Deputies also found a loaded, semi-automatic pistol in the motel room. Garcia was indicted by a federal grand jury on February 6, 2020, on one count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A).

In February 2020, Garcia made his initial appearance in federal court and was released on a $100,000 bond. Garcia eventually violated the terms of his release, his bail was revoked, and Garcia was ordered to report to the Santa Rita Jail facility in June 2020. Garcia failed to report as ordered, and became a fugitive. Garcia’s bond was subsequently forfeited, and the Court entered forfeiture judgments against his sureties.

Garcia remained a fugitive until he was arrested on April 18, 2021. At that time, Sunnyvale police officers approached Garcia in the parking lot of a motel, and Garcia fled through the motel with officers in pursuit. During the chase, Garcia retrieved a pistol from his waistband and fired two shots at the officers before being taken into custody.

On December 18, 2023, Garcia pleaded guilty to the federal charge against him. In the plea agreement, Garcia admitted, among other things, that he possessed the methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin found in his Santa Cruz motel room in July 2019, with the intent to distribute them, and also that he possessed the semi-automatic pistol found in the motel room in connection with his drug dealing. Garcia also admitted he failed to report to the Santa Rita Jail facility as ordered, and that he willfully remained a fugitive until he was arrested in Sunnyvale.

“Disrupting drug trafficking in Santa Cruz County is a priority for our office,” said United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey. “Anyone who traffics drugs in Santa Cruz County, or anywhere else in the Northern District, particularly while armed, should know that federal criminal convictions come with serious prison time.”

“Removing violent offenders from our communities is a priority for ATF,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Cicolani. “Anyone who participates in trafficking will be held accountable. Throughout this case, ATF has worked side by side with our prosecutorial partners to fulfill one of our core duties to the public. That duty being to ensure the safety of our communities. Today’s sentencing ensured that our commitment to the public is being upheld.”

Judge Davila ordered that Garcia’s federal prison term be served concurrently with a 29-year prison term Garcia is currently serving. In addition to the prison term, Judge Davila also ordered Garcia to serve a five-year term of supervised release upon his release from prison.

Assistant United States Attorneys Michael G. Pitman and Daniel N. Kassabian are prosecuting the case, with the assistance of Sahib Kaur. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by ATF and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.

Updated March 5, 2024