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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

Friday, September 14, 2018

Three Brothers Charged in Conspiracy to Distribute More than 20,000 Tablets of Fentanyl

Assistant U. S. Attorney Orlando B. Gutierrez (619) 546-6958    

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – September 14, 2018

SAN DIEGO – Jose Atalo Felix-Beltran, Arturo Felix-Beltran (U.S. citizens), and Osvaldo Felix-Beltran (U.S. resident) living in Indio, California, were arraigned in federal court today on charges that they conspired to distribute over 20,000 tablets of fentanyl. These three defendants are brothers who were arrested together on September 13, 2018, in El Centro, California,

According to a federal criminal complaint, these three brothers drove together to a restaurant located in El Centro, California, where they intended to sell 20,000 tablets of fentanyl to a purchaser who, unbeknownst to them, was an undercover Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Two of the brothers attempted to flee the scene, but were apprehended following a brief foot chase. The third brother was not able to flee and, following a brief period of forcible resistance, was ultimately taken into custody. 

This arrest followed a series of prior transactions where the brothers, together and at times alone, sold undercover DEA agents additional tablets of fentanyl.

At the brothers’ initial appearance in El Centro today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Bermudez Montenegro, the United States requested detention based on risk of flight. Judge Bermudez Montenegro scheduled a detention hearing for September 21, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. and a preliminary hearing for September 27, 2018 at 1:30 PM.

The fentanyl tablets that were to be sold to undercover agents on September 13, 2018 (depicted below), were tablets of fentanyl manufactured to look like 30mg tablets of oxycodone. The combined weight of the tablets seized from the three brothers on September 13, 2018, was approximately 2.23 kilograms of fentanyl (Schedule II).  The retail street value of these fentanyl tablets is estimated to be $600,000.  

Close up Fentanyl tablets
Seized Fentanyl tablets

“This is a significant seizure and I’m very happy that thousands of deadly pills will not make it to the streets,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “But we are seizing fentanyl at an alarming rate. Despite our relentless efforts to interdict this dangerous drug and educate the community, people are still risking their lives. The next pill you take could very well be your last. Don’t do it.”

“We are at a cross road - We can either continue to let the drug cartels destroy American lives with deadly pills or we can commit to raising the intensity of our war against foreign criminals who profit from destroying American lives,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers.  “Drugs are deadly and fentanyl has changed the game.  We are no longer dependent on the coca or the poppy plant.  We can create chemicals to mimic whatever affect we desire.  Our drugs are not Non-GMO certified.  They are all engineered in a laboratory.  They are cheap, easy to get and manufacture.  That line of coke, no longer is just cocaine.  That hit of smack is hyped up with fentanyl.  Crystal is not in your dining room, it is in your arm.  They are all potentially laced with a profit-induced additive called fentanyl.  No one is strong enough to win that battle.  It wins, you die.”  

DEFENDANTS                                            Case Number 18MJ10424                           

Jose Atalo Felix-Beltran,                    Age: 27                                   Indio, CA

Arturo Felix-Beltran                           Age: 30                                   Indio, CA

Osvaldo Felix-Beltran                         Age: 19                                   Indio, CA


Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances (Felony) – Title 21 U.S.C. § 841 and 846

Maximum penalty: Life imprisonment and $10,000,000.00 fine.


Drug Enforcement Administration; (Imperial County and Riverside);

Imperial County Sheriff’s Office;

United States Border Patrol;

Imperial County Probation Department;

El Centro Police Department;

United States Customs and Border Protection;

Homeland Security Investigations;

Drug Enforcement Administration - San Diego Air-wing; and

United States Attorney’s Office

Imperial County District Attorney’s Office

*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.


Press Release Number: 
Updated September 17, 2018