Fentanyl trafficker pleads guilty

crimewatchABINGDON, Va. – A Buena Park, California man, who supplied as many as 30,000 pressed fentanyl pills a week to individuals who shipped the pills to Southwest Virginia, pled guilty today to a pair of federal drug charges.

Robert Contreras, 23, a.k.a. “Quill,” 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.

United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh made the following statement today following the guilty plea:

“Fentanyl, especially in the form of pressed pills, is taking its toll on America, and Virginia is no exception. This case shows one way how we are combatting the pressed pill epidemic. 

After a tragic overdose event in Southwest Virginia, the federal prosecutors in my Office worked with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to identify, prosecute, and convict the wholesale supplier of the overdose, who was here in Virginia.  We then identified his direct supplier (Ortiz) in California, who we also charged and convicted here in Virginia.  We identified Ortiz’s supplier in California (Orozco) and charged and convicted him here as well.  In this matter, we identified Orozco’s supplier – Mr. Contreras – who was selling between 10,000 and 30,000 pills a week for distribution into communities across America, to include the Western District of Virginia. 

Our bottom line is this:  We will not sit by and allow individuals to profit by distributing this poison into our communities, and we will follow the trail as far as we can.  We will investigate and prosecute individuals like Mr. Contreras and hold them accountable here in the Western District of Virginia.”

According to court documents, between 2020 and 2023, Contreras sold between 10,000 and 30,000 pressed fentanyl pills from his home in California to co-conspirator Marco Orozco at least once a week for further distribution.  At the height of the conspiracy in late 2021 and early 2022, Contreras sold Orozco 10,000 pressed fentanyl pills multiple times per week.

Contreras knew Orozco, and others, were distributing the pressed pills he provided to customers throughout southwest Virginia and other locations across the country. Specifically, 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. At that time, 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.

Contreras is scheduled to be sentenced on February 22, 2024 and faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the Norton Police Department, the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force (consisting of the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Norton Police Department, the Big Stone Gap Police Department, and the Virginia State Police), the Orange County (CA) Sheriff’s Department, the Santa Ana (CA) Police Department, the Anaheim Police Department (CA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the United States Postal Inspection Service investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lena L. Busscher is prosecuting the case.