A 32-year-old probationer accused with his girlfriend of selling large quantities of fentanyl in Norco and surrounding locations was charged Friday with two felony counts of possession of controlled substances for sale.
Gustavo Adolfo Chavez of Ontario was arrested Tuesday night following a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigation that began in December.
Chavez is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail and is slated to make his initial court appearance Friday afternoon at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
His co-defendant, 31-year-old Amanda Brooke Listoe, also of Ontario, was arrested with Chavez for alleged distribution of drugs for sale. However, she posted a $50,000 bond and was released from the Robert Presley Jail Thursday.
Listoe is tentatively slated to be arraigned on May 2.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Art Mendez, Listoe was the principal focus of investigators after she was arrested in Eastvale in December for allegedly carrying an undisclosed quantity of fentanyl.
Mendez said Listoe posted bail, but her activity remained under scrutiny, and detectives developed leads that she and Chavez were allegedly engaged in ongoing fentanyl sales around Corona, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Norco and Riverside.
A surveillance operation led to the pair being taken into custody on Hamner Avenue in Norco, according to the sergeant.
“A search of their person and vehicle revealed a significant amount of fentanyl pills,” Mendez said.
He said search warrants were obtained and served at their shared residence in the 3200 block of Yellowstone Drive, where “fentanyl pills, methamphetamine and items indicative of the sales of controlled substances” were seized.
According to court records, Chavez has a prior misdemeanor conviction for being under the influence of a controlled substance. Listoe has no documented prior felony or misdemeanor convictions in Riverside County.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is manufactured in China and smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border. The drug 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, according to public safety officials.
Sheriff Chad Bianco said there were about 500 fentanyl-induced deaths countywide last year, which represents a 250-fold increase from 2016, when only two such fatalities were documented.
During a news briefing in January, District Attorney Mike Hestrin said “profit and greed” had led Mexican drug cartels to transport fentanyl pills in massive quantities across the border, where law enforcement is “not getting any help” in stemming the tide.
To date, a dozen people have been charged with second-degree murder in the county for allegedly selling fentanyl that killed the users.