BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — On the night of March 31, Jose Mario Quintero Beltran drove to Valley Plaza mall with thousands of fentanyl pills, hoping to close a sale for more money than many area residents make in a year.
The night ended on a dramatically different note. Instead of celebrating a $42,000 transaction, the 31-year-old and a juvenile associate ended up in handcuffs.
On Monday, Quintero-Beltran pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing with the intent to distribute fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine. He faces a minimum of 10 years in prison at his Sept. 7 sentencing hearing. It’s possible he could receive life behind bars.
According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Fresno, Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local law enforcement developed a case against Quintero Beltran after he spoke with a confidential informant who asked about buying a large amount of fentanyl pills.
The two agreed to meet at Valley Plaza mall the following evening to complete the transaction. In the meantime, the informant gave investigators Quintero Beltran’s cellphone number, and a search warrant was obtained for the phone’s GPS data.
By the next day, March 31, investigators were able to track the phone’s GPS. The investigation took them to south Bakersfield where they saw a silver Chevy Malibu parked in front of a residence on Townsley Avenue.
That evening, a deputy saw the same car occupied by two people on Ming Avenue near the mall, according to the complaint. Investigators kept the vehicle under surveillance.
Meanwhile, the informant called Quintero Beltran and said they were running late because of car problems. The informant moved the rendezvous to the Lowe’s Home Improvement parking lot on Colony Street, according to the complaint.
At 8:02 p.m., the Malibu was spotted driving up and down the parking lot outside the store. Its windows were down as the two occupants scanned the area, apparently looking for law enforcement or anyone who might try to steal the drugs.
The informant met them by the Malibu minutes later. The informant said he wanted to buy 20,000 fentanyl pills, but Quintero Beltran said he only had 15,000 in the car. He said he could retrieve another 5,000 from his house, according to the complaint.
Quintero Beltran gave the informant two sample pills, the complaint says. For proof of the missing 5,000 pills, the informant gave Quintero Beltran a 200 peso bill and told him to take a photo of it with the pills and send it to him. The informant then left and, at 8:15 p.m., Quintero Beltran and the juvenile got back in the car and drove away.
Investigators later stopped the car for a vehicle code violation in the area of South H Street and Panama Lane.
During a search of the vehicle, investigators found the fentanyl pills and $3,576 in cash, according to the complaint. A search warrant executed at the Townsley Avenue home turned up an additional 31,000 fentanyl pills, roughly 40 pounds of cocaine, two pounds of crystal methamphetamine and a pound of liquid meth.
Quintero Beltran told investigators he picks up drugs “down south” and receives payment by taking a portion of the proceeds before giving the rest to an unidentified woman, according to the complaint. He said the juvenile is from Sinaloa and has helped him sell drugs for a long time.
The juvenile’s name is not contained in the documents and it’s unclear what punishment he faces.