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Alleged fentanyl dealing grandma’s neighbors shocked: ‘It’s like Breaking Bad’

An unassuming grandma accused of running a drug ring from her California home has shocked her neighborhood – with them comparing the situation to the TV show “Breaking Bad”.

Joanne Marian Segovia  – who worked as executive director of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association – has been slapped with federal charges for allegedly importing a synthetic opioid called Valeryl fentanyl.

“She’s more the kind of person you would imagine who would have chocolate chip cookies or something ready for the kids, like a typical grandma,” said Michael Galloway, who lives two doors down from Segovia in a gated San Jose community.

“This is a complete surprise. There was nothing unusual going on there. It’s like ‘Breaking Bad.’ — you’re not expecting that at all! I mean, everyone is shocked.”

“Breaking Bad” followed the exploits of a suburban chemistry teacher named Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, who starts cooking and selling meth to raise money for his cancer treatment.

Joanne Marian Segovia, a California grandmother, is accused of running a drug ring out of her home.
Joanne Segovia/Facebook

According to an affidavit filed by federal prosecutors, 64-year-old Segovia received at least 61 packages at her home from October 2015 and January 2023. When interviewed by officers, the grandma is said to have tried to blame her housekeeper.

The packages— which came from India, Canada, Great Britain, Hong Kong and China— were labeled as containing an assortment of items, including wedding party favors, makeup, supplements and chocolate and sweets.

Investigators claim the packages actually contained deadly synthetic opioids and strong painkillers like Tramadol and Tapentadol, which Segovia then distributed across the US.

Patricia Briggs told The Post Segovia and her husband, Dom, have lived in the neighborhood for about 20 years and are always pleasant.

Briggs said Dom had retired and enjoyed playing golf, while Joanne never missed an opportunity to gush about her daughter and two grandchildren.

“Joanne has always been extremely friendly and just enjoyable,” Briggs said. “If somebody asked me who might be doing something untoward, Joanne’s name would never come up on that list. My neighbors and I — we are all gobsmacked.”

Neighbors said about a dozen unmarked vehicles surrounded the Segovias’ home last week. Investigators, who were not wearing uniforms, walked in and out of the home carrying bags of evidence.

Joanne Segovia
Segovia worked as executive director of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association.
Joanne Segovia/Facebook

Segovia was first interviewed by agents on February 1, according to a report written by David Vargas, a spacial agent with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. During that interview, she told agents that she “worked for the police department” and claimed she had only ordered supplements.

When asked why her name and address were found in the phone of a suspected drug trafficker, Segovia allegedly told the investigators she had “no idea.”

During a second interview with investigators on March 14, Segovia said she had nothing to do with the packages addressed to her and instead placed the blame on her housekeeper, who was a family friend.

She added the unnamed woman was suffering from a substance abuse disorder and had access to her personal smartphone and her CashApp and WhatsApp communications.

“It all leads to her,” Segovia told investigators.

Despite meeting with agents at least twice, the grandmother continued to correspond on WhatsApp with someone using a country code from India in March 2023.

“The IndiaChat contained hundreds of messages referring to ‘soma’ or ‘orange pills’ as well as discussing shipping and payment,” claimed the Homeland Security report. “The chat also contained 235 images— depicting pills, shipping labels, packaging and payment receipts or confirmations.”

Joanne Segovia's UPS receipt.
Segovia received at least 61 packages at her home from October 2015 and January 2023.
Northern District of California

Segovia allegedly sent the packages she received from India to a woman in North Carolina, but it was intercepted by agents. The return address on the packages showed the address of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, where Segovia had worked for 20 years.

“I also believe the use of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association shipping label indicates that Segovia used her office as part of her purchasing and distribution of controlled substances,” Vargas wrote in his report.

Briggs, who has known Segovia and her husband for about two decades, said she is having a difficult time fathoming her neighbor and friend could be capable of running a drug operation.

She said her friend was a doting grandmother and a loving daughter to her elderly mother, who she visited every Sunday.

Briggs, who is a retired nurse, said if the allegations are true, she would not only be disappointed but outraged.

Illegal fentanyl is safely handled and contained.
Segovia has been slapped with federal charges for allegedly importing a synthetic opioid called Valeryl fentanyl.

“It angers me tremendously, to my core, to think about it as a nurse,” Briggs said. “It is the worst crime there is because I have seen it first hand, working 13 years with those who experience drug addiction, early in my career. It leads to nothing but death and destruction.”

She added, “It’s just shocking but I emphasize that she is innocent until proven guilty. The woman I know, who is my friend, deserves that. The Joanne I know is a very kind and gentle person. But there might a woman that I don’t know, and that’s a different story.”

Segovia, who appeared in court on Friday, was released with no bond and placed under a supervised release, according to Bay Area television station KRON.

The judge ordered her not to travel outside of Northern California. 

Segovia’s next court appearance is scheduled for April 28.

“I am just angry because it’s a huge, huge letdown to all of the men and women that are a part of our organization” Sam Pritchard, president of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, told the TV station. “It’s just so hard to comprehend. This person has really been the grandma of the POA. It’s not the person that we’ve known for well over a decade.”

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