May 30, 2024
A coalition of FBI agents and police around the Bay Area have thus far seized more than 14 pounds of fentanyl and arrested a 29-year-old man believed to be a large-scale fentanyl supplier.

OAKLAND — An FBI law enforcement task force has thus far seized at least 14 pounds of fentanyl and $28,000 in cash, and arrested a 29-year-old man believed to be a supplier to other Bay Area dealers who sell the deadly drug by the ounce, according to multiple law enforcement sources.

The FBI Safe Streets task force operation has focused on the East Bay, with an eye on arresting people who are supplying drug dealers in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, according to court records. In addition to the fentanyl, authorities one pound of cocaine, six ounces of heroin, three ounces of methamphetamine, and an unregistered firearm, authorities said.

On Aug. 7, task force members arrested 29-year-old Elvin Melendez-Cruz, at the Bay Breeze Inn, where he’d apparently been staying for weeks. Authorities kept on seeing his recognizable Mercedes Benz parked at the hotel, and on July 19, a group of agents with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation say they saw him conduct a “hand to hand drug transaction” with a person in the parking lot, according tot he complaint.

The case against Melendez-Cruz is not just based on undercover surveillance missions like the one outlined on July 19, but a phone wiretap and the use of undercover federal informants. Melendez-Cruz was identified as a fentanyl supplier to two other people who the FBI were initially investigating, the complaint says.

In one controlled drug purchase, an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration met a man Melendez-Cruz was allegedly supplying and bought 20 ounces from him. The two met up at the Happy Hot Dog parking lot in Oakland, while special agents with the DEA watched from a short distance away, the complaint says.

The complaint also outlines Melendez-Cruz’s frequent trips to San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, which FBI Special Agent Daniel Kim “consistent with the activities of a drug dealer.” Kim added that it appeared Melendez-Cruz was using the hotel as a “stash house” to sell drugs, while living at a nearby residence on Bancroft Avenue in Oakland.

When agents searched Melendez-Cruz’s hotel room, they found “a cutting board, a razor blade, bags of suspected fentanyl, bags of pills, $12,506 in currency, a room key, a firearm and a magazine loaded with ammunition,” the complaint says. This discovery comes with the caveat that tests are still being conducted to verify the substance was, in fact, fentanyl, Kim wrote.

Melendez-Cruz remains in federal custody at Santa Rita Jail, records show.