A convicted felon allegedly caught by Riverside County sheriff’s deputies in Coachella with a rifle, culminating in an investigation that led to the seizure of a large quantity of drugs, including fentanyl, was being held Friday on $50,000 bail.
Giovanni Victor Rochin, 29, of Westminister was arrested and booked into the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning Thursday on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm, being a felon in possession of ammunition, possession of controlled substances and probation violations.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Paul Heredia, about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, anti-gang task force deputies were patrolling near the intersection of Cesar Chavez Street and Estado Avenue when they spotted Rochin, a documented gang member on probation, driving through the area.
The deputies stopped him and conducted a probation compliance search, during which they located ammunition, Heredia alleged.
The suspect was taken into custody without incident, and investigators then proceeded to another location in the city, where they found a pickup truck belonging to Heredia.
Heredia said that a search of the pickup revealed there was a “an unregistered rifle concealed behind the seat.” It was seized, after which investigators traveled to the suspect’s residence in the 15000 block of Brookhurst Street in Westminster, where a search warrant was served.
“During the service, task force members located more than 1,000 fentanyl pills, as well as cocaine and ammunition,” the sergeant said. The drugs and ammo were seized.
Information on Rochin’s prior convictions was not available.
Fentanyl is manufactured in China and smuggled across the Mexican border, according to Sheriff Chad Bianco.
It is known to be 80-100 times more potent than morphine and is a popular additive, seamlessly mixed into any number of narcotics and pharmaceuticals.
County District Attorney Mike Hestrin told the Board of Supervisors over the summer that the county was on pace to document 500 fentanyl deaths this year. The number of fatalities has doubled every year since 2015, the DA said.