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SAN DIEGO — Federal prosecutors filed drug-trafficking charges Tuesday against four defendants arrested following a sting operation in which agents acquired more than 10,000 fentanyl pills smuggled through San Diego-area ports of entry.
According to a criminal complaint, undercover agents negotiated in December to buy roughly 4,000 fentanyl pills from a Tijuana drug trafficker who then arranged for the drug haul to be sneaked into the United States.
San Diego resident Dianna Dominguez arrived in the border area Monday in a vehicle with fellow defendants Felix Inzunza-Dominguez Jr. and Norma Macias-Dominguez, both of Tijuana.
Inzunza-Dominguez exited the vehicle with a bag and headed to the nearby Frye’s parking lot, where he delivered thousands of fentanyl pills to an undercover agent, expecting to receive $24,000.
As alleged in the complaint, the bag also contained two condoms, believed to be the smugglers’ method of concealing the fentanyl as they entered the United States.
Following the illicit delivery, the agent told the trafficker in Mexico that he had not received the fentanyl pills and needed another 2,000 of them.
According to the complaint, after that exchange, Tanairi Ponce of Tijuana placed 2,000 fentanyl pills in her bra, crossed the border and delivered them to the agent, at which point she was arrested.
In a separate case, defendant Christopher James Stracuzzi of San Diego was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in federal court on a charge of distributing fentanyl resulting in a man’s death last summer.
Police received a 911 call on the evening of July 18 reporting an unconscious resident in a San Diego apartment.
Paramedics arrived on scene and tried in vain to resuscitate the man. His roommate later advised investigators that Stracuzzi had sold the victim 12 tablets that the roommate believed were oxycodone pills. They both took one and fell asleep.
After learning from the Medical Examiner’s Office that the victim had died of a fentanyl overdose, the roommate gave agents the remaining 10 tablets, which a federal crime laboratory analyzed and found to contain fentanyl.
“When drug traffickers smuggle or distribute black-market pills laced with fentanyl, they are inviting buyers to play Russian roulette with their lives,” San Diego-area U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said.
“Stopping the importation and sale of these exceedingly dangerous pills remains one of the department’s most important priorities. We won’t rest until we take every pill and every dealer off the street.”
Judge Michael Berg scheduled detention hearings for the defendants in both cases for Friday morning.