Tehama County man indicted on drug, firearm possession charges

·3 min read

Apr. 28—SACRAMENTO — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Austreberto Rafael Santamaria-Valencia, 25, of Corning, on April 22, charging him with suspicion of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and being a felon in possession of a firearm, said Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.

Santamaria-Valencia was located by a Red Bluff police officer Feb. 6 at Best Western Motel in Red Bluff.

When officers entered the room they reportedly found Santamaria-Valencia sitting in a chair, unconscious but breathing. On the bed near him, officers allegedly saw multiple plastic bags containing what appeared to be blue pills, of the type sold as counterfeit oxycodone pills, but which often contain fentanyl.

When officers woke Santamaria-Valencia, he indicated he had taken fentanyl, according to the federal court records.

As medical personnel cleared Santamaria-Valencia, the officers learned the he was wanted on an arrest warrant related to his arrest by Corning police in March 2020.

Santamaria-Valencia was arrested and booked into to the Tehama County Jail on suspicion of loaded firearm in public, person prohibited from possessing firearm/ammunition, possession of controlled narcotic substance for sale, possession of controlled substance while armed, possession of firearm by felon and other charges.

In the meantime, officers searched the motel room and Santamaria-Valencia's car, where they reportedly seized approximately 1,000 counterfeit M-30 Oxycodone pills, a loaded Taurus G3C 9mm semi-automatic pistol, two bottles containing a total of 170 Farmapram (Alprazolam-Xanax) pills, five packets of suboxone strips, 90 grams of marijuana, approximately $7,000 in cash, and other items commonly used in street sales of narcotics.

If convicted, Santamaria-Valencia faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the charge of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl; and 10 years and a $250,000 fine for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Santamaria-Valencia is known to local law enforcement as he was responsible for shooting and killing two suspects who were attempting to rob his home on Highway 99W in Corning in January of 2019.

In the incident, a woman knocked at the front door of a home saying her car had broken down. Then-23-year-old Santamaria-Valencia went out to help her. When he got to the car two men confronted him, one of them with a handgun, and led him back toward the house, apparently to steal a large quantity of marijuana.

Meanwhile the Santamaria-Valencia's parents had come outside and were accosted by two other armed men. The husband and wife struggled, as did Santamaria-Valencia, and all three were able to get into the house and lock the door. Santamaria-Valencia retrieved a handgun from his bedroom as suspects in the carport broke the window of the back door. He reportedly stepped out the door and shot two of the robbers in the head, killing them. One of the remaining suspects took off on foot. Meanwhile, Jose Anciento Cardenas-Manzo, the uncle of one of the robbers, was reportedly waiting at a Corning truck stop. He had planned the heist and was sentenced last year to 5 years in state prison.

The parents, Enrique and Maria Santamaria-Zepeda, were arrested and sentenced for the 80 pounds of marijuana they were allegedly in possession of. He was given 30 days and she 90 days in county jail, and both are on probation. Santamaria-Valencia was never charged with a crime.

The federal indictment case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Red Bluff Police Department, the Tehama County Major Crimes Unit, and the Tehama County District Attorney's Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Conolly is prosecuting the case.

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