Police union director fired after opioid smuggling arrest

The executive director for a Northern California police union who was charged with attempting to illegally import synthetic opioids from India and other countries has been fired from her job, officials said Friday.

Joanne Marian Segovia, who was the executive director of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, was arrested last week on charges she attempted to unlawfully import valeryl fentanyl, an analogue of the synthetic opioid that has driven the overdose crisis in the United States, said the U.S. Attorney’s office in a news release. 

The police association fired her after completing an initial internal investigation, union officials said in a statement. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison.

Segovia came under investigation in late 2022, officials said in a complaint filed by the Northern District of California, U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

Segovia was first interviewed by federal investigators in February and continued to allegedly order controlled substances after thatShe was interviewed again on March 14, where she tried to blame her housekeeper for the packages, WhatsApp messages and cash transactions. An investigator said he believed Segovia had “provided false information” to investigators. 

The complaint alleges that Segovia used her personal and office computers to order thousands of opioid and other pills to her home address. Segovia also allegedly agreed to distribute the drugs in the United States. Between October 2015 and January, Segovia allegedly had at least 61 shipments mailed to her home, the complaint said. 

In addition to using her home to receive packages, Segovia allegedly used her office at the San Jose Police Officers’ Association to distribute the pills. According to her LinkedIn page, Segovia was the executive director of the association for over 19 years, beginning in July 2003. On its website, the association says it represents members on matters like wages, benefits and working conditions. Segovia is no longer listed on the website and it is not clear what her role entailed. 

The packages were sent from overseas, including Hong Kong, Hungary, India and Singapore. Shipping manifests for the packages described them as “Wedding Party Favors,” candies, or makeup products, the complaint alleged, but between July 2019 and Jan. 2023, officials intercepted and opened five packages and found that they contained “thousands of pills of controlled substances.” 

Segovia was apprehended as part of an ongoing Homeland Security investigation that was looking into a network shipping controlled substances into the Bay Area from abroad, the complaint alleged. Her information was found in the phone of another network operative.

Her attorney, Will Edelman, did not immediately respond Friday to a voicemail seeking comment.

An outside investigator will be hired to conduct a comprehensive “no-holds-barred” probe of Segovia’s alleged crimes, determine to what extent she utilized union resources and whether that could have been prevented, they said.

“The abhorrent criminal conduct alleged against Ms. Segovia must be the impetus to ensuring our internal controls at the POA are strong and that we enact any changes that could have identified the alleged conduct sooner,” said Sean Pritchard, president of the union.