Colorado man was selling fentanyl disguised as oxycodone

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DENVER (KDVR) – A Colorado man will face federal prison sentence for distributing thousands of counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl.

Victor Manual Ortega-Ochoa, 47, was sentenced to 41 months of federal prison and two years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

“The tens of thousands of counterfeit oxycodone pills currently pouring into our state often contain fentanyl,” said Matt Kirsch, acting US attorney for the county of Colorado, in a press release. “We will continue to aggressively prosecute the people who hand out these pills, which often lead to fatal overdoses.”

Posters comparing lethal amounts of heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil are seen during a press conference on the dangers of fentanyl at DEA headquarters in Arlington, Va., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. (AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin)

Oxycodone and fentanyl are both opioids, but fentanyl is strong – 100 times stronger than morphine, according to DEA. Fentanyl is often mixed with drugs sold as powders and nasal sprays to make them more effective, and they are increasingly being pressed into pills that look like legitimate prescription pills.

The plea agreement in the case includes details of a counterfeit pill in Colorado.

Investigations begin on the western slope

The counterfeit pills looked like 30 mg oxycodone tablets, were light blue-green in color and had an “M” – for the manufacturer Mallinckrodt, Inc. – on one side and a “30” on the other side. Investigators tested the pills and found that they contained a mixture of fentanyl and paracetamol.

Ortega-Ochoa distributed the pills from at least February 2019 to June 10, 2020 when he was arrested.

The investigation began in January 2018 when the Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating the distribution of counterfeit pills in the Western Slope. Through a confidential source, the DEA began buying counterfeit pills from a source in Mexico that it would soon link to a source in Denver – later identified as Ortega-Ochoa.

Ortega-Ochoa conspired with others to distribute the counterfeit pills and personally distributed 3,000 of them in covert DEA purchases. During these purchases, he also quoted prices for pounds of methamphetamine and a kilogram of cocaine.

When Ortega-Ochoa was arrested on June 10, 2020, investigators found weapons in his home. Ortega-Ochoa lived illegally in the USA after the deportation and was therefore not allowed to own any weapons.

Read the full settlement agreement here.

Christine M. Arguello, US District Court judge, sentenced him on November 2.

The case was followed up by US Assistant Attorney Jeremy Chaffin and is being investigated by the DEA IRS crime investigation.


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