SAN FRANCISCO – Melvin Alexis Diaz Arteaga appeared in federal court to face an indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and possessing fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine with the intent to distribute it, and Luis Almicar Erazo-Centeno also appeared to face the indictment’s charges against him of possession of fentanyl with the intent to distribute and for accessory after the fact, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bob P. Beris. The indictment also charges Diaz Arteaga with two counts of distributing methamphetamine, including one occurring in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District.
The indictment charges Diaz Arteaga, 27, a resident of Oakland, with engaging in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl from September 16 to November 16, 2022. He is also charged with three separate counts of possessing fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine on November 16, 2022, with the intent to distribute each drug. According to a detention memo filed by the government, Diaz Arteaga was arrested on November 16, 2022, outside of a house in Berkeley. Police allegedly seized approximately two pounds of fentanyl and a combined total of one pound of heroin and cocaine at the arrest scene.
The indictment further charges Diaz Arteaga with two earlier sales of methamphetamine, one occurring on September 20, 2022, and the other on October 5, 2022. The government’s detention memo alleges that in the earlier sale, Diaz Arteaga sold methamphetamine in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. In the later sale, the government’s detention memo alleges Diaz Arteaga again sold methamphetamine, this time in Richmond, California.
The indictment separately charges Erazo-Centeno, 31, a resident of Oakland, with one count of possessing fentanyl on November 16, 2022, with the intent to distribute it. According to the government’s detention memo, police arrested Erazo-Centeno on November 16, 2022, at a residence in Oakland where officers found him attempting to dispose of drugs. For that conduct, Erazo-Centeno is charged with one count of accessory after the fact.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Diaz Arteaga is charged in the indictment with one count each of conspiracy to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl and possession of more than 400 grams of fentanyl for purposes of distribution, each of which carries a maximum sentence of life and a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. The indictment also charges Diaz Arteaga with one count each of possessing more than 100 grams of heroin for distribution and more than 500 grams of cocaine for distribution, and each of these counts carries a maximum sentence of 40 years and a minimum of 5 years in prison. The indictment also charges Diaz Arteaga with two counts of distributing methamphetamine. One count carries a maximum sentence of 40 years and a minimum sentence of 5 years in prison, and the other count carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Erazo-Centeno is charged in the indictment with one count of possession of fentanyl for distribution, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. The indictment also charges Erazo-Centeno with being an accessory after the fact to Diaz Arteaga’s possession of fentanyl for distribution, and that count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Parker is prosecuting the case, with the assistance of paralegal Jessie Chelsea and legal assistant Soana Katoa. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by DEA and the San Francisco Police Department.
One Pill Can Kill: Avoid pills bought on the street because One Pill Can Kill. Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid that drug dealers dilute with cutting agents to make counterfeit prescription pills that appear to be Oxycodone, Percocet, Xanax, and other drugs. Fentanyl is used because it’s cheap. Small variations in the quantity or quality of fentanyl in a fake prescription pill can accidentally create a lethal dosage. Fentanyl is the leading cause of drug poisoning deaths in the United States. Fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl are usually shaped and colored to appear to be pills sold at pharmacies, like Percocet and Xanax. For example, fake prescription pills known as “M30s” imitate Oxycodone obtained from a pharmacy, but when sold on the street the pills routinely contain fentanyl. These particular pills are usually round tablets and often light blue in color, though they may be in different shapes and a rainbow of colors. They often have “M” and “30” imprinted on opposite sides of the pill. Do not take these or any other pills bought on the street – they are routinely fake and poisonous, and you will not know until it is too late.