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California man sentenced to 18 years in prison for fentanyl operation in Southwest Virginia

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A California man who supplied 30,000 pressed fentanyl pills a week to individuals who distributed them into Southwest Virginia has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison.

Robert Conteras, aka “Quill”, 24, of Buena Park, Calif., previously pled guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

In addition to his prison term, Contreras was ordered to forfeit five firearms and $31,294 in cash.

According to court documents, between 2020 and 2023, Contreras sold between 10,000 and 30,000 pressed fentanyl pills at a time to co-conspirator Marco Orozco at least once a week.

The pills were then shipped from California to Southwest Virginia and other locations across the country for further distribution. Orozco’s sub-distributors used various social media platforms to facilitate their drug trade.

On March 6, 2023, a search warrant was executed at Contreras’ residence in California.

Officers recovered 1,639 pressed fentanyl pills, $31,294 in cash and five firearms without serial numbers, in addition to approximately 7,000 alprazolam pills, 3,000 Adderall pills, 242 grams of cocaine and other hallucinogenic narcotics.

“Fentanyl, especially in the form of pressed pills, is taking its toll on America, and Virginia is no exception,” said U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh.

“This case, involving the collaboration of law enforcement agencies across the country, is a prime example of the proactive measures undertaken by this Department of Justice to combat the burgeoning pressed pill epidemic currently plaguing our nation,” Kavanaugh said. “We will investigate, prosecute and hold accountable those who profit by poisoning our communities, and – as exhibited here – we will work up the chain of drug traffickers as far and wide as possible to bring them to account.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.