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A top member of San Jose’s police union imported and distributed opioids, prosecutors say

A bunch of white pills.
Oxycodone pills. A San Jose police union official was arrested in an opioid distribution scheme.
(Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)
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The executive director of the San Jose police union imported opioids from overseas in a scheme to distribute the drugs in the U.S., federal prosecutors say.

Joanne Marian Segovia was charged Tuesday with attempting to import a controlled substance in a scheme that took place from 2015 to 2023.

Segovia, 64, was arrested as the result of a “Homeland Security investigation into a network that was shipping controlled substances into the San Francisco Bay Area from abroad,” according to the Department of Justice.

Six California Highway Patrol officers, a sergeant and a nurse have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a man they wrestled with while they tried to draw his blood following a DUI stop in March 2020.

March 29, 2023

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San Jose Police Officers’ Assn. spokesperson Tom Saggau said Thursday in a statement to The Times that the union was informed Friday “by federal authorities that one of our civilian employees was under investigation for distribution of a controlled substance and the POA has been fully and completely cooperating with the federal authorities as they continue their investigation.”

“The POA immediately placed the civilian employee on leave and as is standard procedure cut off all access to the POA,” Saggau said.

“No additional individual at the POA is involved or had prior knowledge of the alleged acts,” he added. “The Board of Directors is saddened and disappointed at hearing this news, and we have pledged to provide our full support to the investigative authorities.”

According to a complaint filed this week by the U.S. attorney’s office, from October 2015 to January this year, Segovia received shipments at her home from countries including China, India and Hungary.

The shipments — 61 in total — were mailed with manifests such as “wedding party favors” and “chocolates and sweets” but contained thousand of dollars’ worth of synthetic opioid pills such as tramadol and tapentadol.

“The complaint alleges that Segovia used her office at the San Jose Police Officers’ Association to distribute controlled substances,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

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The rapid spread across the country of xylazine, also known as “tranq,” has local health officials worried it will exacerbate an already alarming overdose crisis.

Feb. 18, 2023

In one shipment, Segovia allegedly sent a package to a woman in North Carolina using the union’s UPS account.

She was interviewed by federal investigators in February but allegedly continued to order the substances afterward.

In March, federal agents seized a package — labeled as a “clock” — in Kentucky that was addressed to Segovia that contained valeryl fentanyl, the department said.

If convicted, Segovia faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

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