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Press Release

Distributor of More than 100 Pounds of Fentanyl Sentenced to Almost Six Years in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

Assistant U. S. Attorney Meghan E. Heesch (619) 546-9442  

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – December 1, 2021

SAN DIEGO – Ernesto Renteria of Chula Vista was sentenced in federal court today to 71 months in custody for distributing more than 100 pounds of deadly fentanyl plus fentanyl analogues, cocaine and methamphetamine.

According to his plea agreement, in May 2021, Renteria stored large quantities of the federally controlled substances at his house in Chula Vista and was shipping them to distributors across the country via UPS.  In total, DEA agents seized from Renteria 49.1 kilograms (108.2 pounds) of fentanyl; 7 kilograms of cocaine; 4 kilograms of fentanyl analogue; and 1.8 kg methamphetamine. Agents also seized packaging materials and GPS tracking devices.

This seizure of fentanyl is yet another example of drug cartels pushing huge quantities of fentanyl into the San Diego community. On November 19, 2021, authorities at the Otay Mesa port of entry made a record-breaking seizure of 17,584 pounds of methamphetamine and 388.93 pounds of fentanyl from a commercial trailer attempting to enter the U.S. The driver of the vehicle, Carlos Martin Quintana-Arias, faces narcotics importation charges.

DEA agents across the country have seized a record-high 12,000 pounds of fentanyl this year.

“Fentanyl is an incredibly dangerous drug that is destroying lives and families in our community and across the nation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman. “Our office will continue to aggressively prosecute those responsible for distributing this poison and profiting from the opioid epidemic.” Grossman praised the prosecution team and DEA agents for their excellent work on this case.

“The quantity of fentanyl DEA agents seized from Ernesto Renteria is disturbing,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe.  “Had DEA not seized these deadly drugs prior to distribution, many Americans could have died from a fentanyl overdose.  The DEA will continue to prioritize investigations targeting fentanyl drug traffickers to fight the growing number of overdose deaths in our country.”

Fentanyl analogues like the ones possessed by Renteria are particularly dangerous because the chemical structure can be manipulated to increase the potency. Since 2018, fentanyl analogues have been temporarily classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule I controlled substance. The temporary schedule expires in February 2022. In January 2020, all four U.S. Attorneys in California called on Congress to strengthen federal prosecutors’ toolkits by permanently scheduling all fentanyl analogues as Schedule I controlled substances.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations.

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 21cr1594-CAB                           

Ernesto Renteria                                             Age: 45                       Chula Vista, CA


Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances, in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841 and 846

Maximum Penalty: Life in prison; $10 million fine


Drug Enforcement Administration

Updated December 1, 2021

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: CAS21-1201-Renteria