An Oregon man caught dealing counterfeit prescription pills and powdered fentanyl in Portland was charged earlier this week in federal court.
Yexon Efrain Mendez-Zuniga, 19, of Beaverton, Oregon, has been charged by criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl, unlawfully possessing a firearm, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
According to court documents, on February 22, 2023, officers from the Portland Police Bureau were conducting surveillance in downtown Portland where numerous open-air drug transactions had been observed and reported. At approximately 10:40am, a PPB officer observed Mendez-Zuniga conduct a suspected hand-to-hand drug transaction near the intersection of SW 4th Avenue and SW Washington Street. Within a matter of minutes, officers observed Mendez-Zuniga conduct several additional transactions. They also observed Mendez-Zuniga using a handheld radio, appearing to communicate with other accomplices in the area.
Shortly thereafter, two officers approached Mendez-Zuniga near Director’s Park on SW Yamhill Street and directed him to stop. Mendez-Zuniga initially ran from the officers, but was soon arrested without incident. The officers searched Mendez-Zuniga’s person and located two clear baggies containing approximately 250 blue M30 pills and a chunk of suspected fentanyl powder, a loaded 9mm handgun, and a large fold of cash.
In an interview with officers, Mendez-Zuniga claimed he started dealing drugs one week prior to earn more money than he did in his previous job as a roofer. He admitted to selling approximately 300 M30 pills daily for $2 a piece and small quantities of powdered fentanyl he would pinch off a larger piece he had purchased from another dealer. He further told officers that he possessed the firearm for his own protection while dealing drugs. Investigators estimate Mendez-Zuniga has sold as many as 2,100 counterfeit pills containing fentanyl in Portland in the last week.
Mendez-Zuniga is expected to make his first appearance in federal court this week.
This case was investigated by the Portland Police Bureau’s Narcotics and Organized Crime Unit (NOC) and Neighborhood Response Team (NRT) with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). It is being prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Source: US Attorneys Office