SAN JOSE, Calif. (NewsNation) — The executive director of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association has been charged with attempting to illegally import a controlled substance, according to the United States Department of Justice.
The arrest of 64-year-old Joanne Marian Segovia has stunned the law enforcement community and raised new suspicions regarding how the opioid crisis in the U.S. may be fueled by those who are supposed to be fighting it.
A federal criminal complaint states that Segovia used her personal and office computers to order the drugs, including fentanyl, between October 2015 and January 2023. At least 61 shipments were mailed to her home from places including Hong Kong, Hungary and India, the DOJ said.
The packages mailed to Segovia’s home had innocuous labels, such as “Shirts Tops,” “Chocolate and Sweets” and “Gift Makeup,” according to the DOJ.
Segovia has been with the association since 2003.
“This is an incredibly disturbing allegation. No one is above the law, regardless of who their employer is,” said San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan. “I want to thank U.S. Attorney (Ismail J.) Ramsey and his colleagues for aggressively pursuing the sources of fentanyl coming into our communities and holding drug dealers accountable.”
The number of people who have lost loved ones to fentanyl and other opioids continues to grow.
Retired judge Ladoris Cordell, who is also a former independent police auditor for San Jose, wants to know if any of the alleged wrongdoing involves union funds.
“If they have anyone who is in charge of looking at the finances, checking the records and the books, it would seem that someone would have noticed that this was happening,” Cordell told NewsNation.
“The POA (Police Officers’ Association) immediately placed the civilian employee on leave and, as is standard procedure, cut off all access to the POA. No additional individual at the POA is involved or had prior knowledge of the alleged acts. The Board of Directors is saddened and disappointed,” a statement from the association read in part.
According to experts, fentanyl has changed the fight against opioids, as pill profits are apparently swaying some in law enforcement.
“Corrupt police are the biggest nightmare for … legitimate law enforcement officers that you have out there,” said retired DEA Special Agent Peter Gudowitz. “Monitor the investigations and be on the lookout for corruption.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Segovia continued to distribute narcotics even after being questioned by federal investigators last month. A package of fentanyl that was sent to her just two weeks ago was labeled as a “clock.”
Segovia is scheduled to be in court on Friday.
NewsNation affiliates KTLA in Los Angeles and KRON in San Francisco contributed to this report.