RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) — A Riverside County sheriff’s corrections officer with alleged ties to a Mexican drug cartel has been charged with drug trafficking and possession of over 100 pounds of fentanyl, according to prosecutors.
Jorge Alberto Oceguera-Rocha, 25, of Banning, was arraigned in state court Monday after federal prosecutors declined to file charges against him last week, resulting in his immediate release from prison and immediate re-arrest.
In addition to the transport charge, Oceguera-Rocha is also accused of possession of narcotics for sale and the sentence-enhancing charge of committing a drug offense with weapon force.
He pleaded not guilty during an arraignment before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Valerie Navarro, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Oct. 31 at the Banning Justice Center.
According to a statement filed in Riverside County Superior Court regarding the source of a felony bond, “Oceguera-Rocha conducts drug activities in collaboration with the Mexican Cartel, and due to the nature of that relationship, it is believed that Oceguera-Rocha has access to this as well.” large amounts of narcotics.”
The defendant is being held at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on $5 million bail.
He resigned his position with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department immediately after his first arrest, sheriff’s officials said.
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Early last week, detectives filed their case against Oceguera-Rocha with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but federal prosecutors declined to file charges, according to sheriff’s Capt. Rob Roggeveen. U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Thom Mrozek declined to comment on the matter.
With Oceguera-Rocha’s guaranteed speedy arraignment closed Wednesday, he was quickly released from jail but immediately re-arrested on essentially the same charges as before. Roggeveen said investigators then took their case to the prosecutor’s office and received confirmation that a criminal complaint would be filed.
Prosecutors filed the complaint with the Supreme Court late Monday morning.
“Bail was set at $5 million based on the weight of (the fentanyl), the danger to the public and the ability for Rocha to avoid prosecution,” Roggeveen said.
Sheriff’s officials said Oceguera-Rocha was traveling in the area of the 10 Freeway and County Line Road in Calimesa when he was stopped by law enforcement in the early morning hours of Sept. 17.
“After a K9 alerted to the presence of narcotics in the vehicle, a search was conducted,” Roggeveen said. “Inside the vehicle were (104) pounds of packaged fentanyl pills – M30. There was also a loaded handgun in the vehicle.”
Oceguera-Rocha was arrested without incident.
The sheriff’s captain did not say how long the Special Investigations Bureau had been monitoring the defendant or what evidence informed the investigation into his alleged drug trafficking, which did not involve “smuggling drugs into the Riverside County Jail system.”
“The Sheriff’s Department condemns any form of illegal activity and remains resolutely committed to deterring and preventing such conduct,” Roggeveen said, adding that the department “will take all necessary measures to maintain the highest standards of integrity and professionalism of its department.” to ensure personnel.” “
Oceguera-Rocha was hired by the department in April 2019 and assigned to Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
City News Service contributed to this report.