An Idaho man has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute huge amounts of dangerous and deadly drugs throughout the Treasure Valley area.
31-year-old Rigoverto Hernandez of Caldwell received the 240-month sentence from U.S. District Judge Amanda K. Brailsford on Wednesday after pleading guilty in November to federal drug trafficking charges.
Hernandez admitted to having nearly 20,000 fentanyl pills, over 13 pounds of methamphetamine, and three firearms when he was arrested last April.
The massive drug bust was the result of an investigation by the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crimes Task Force. Officers carried out a search warrant on an Airbnb where Hernandez was staying on April 4, 2023.
The multi-agency task force, which includes the FBI, Caldwell Police, Canyon County Sheriff’s Office, and Idaho Department of Correction, found Hernandez in possession of the huge stash of narcotics and prohibited guns.
U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit, who announced the sentence, called the amount of fentanyl “staggering” and said it “could have killed thousands of Idahoans.” Hurwit commended the task force for removing a “dangerous fentanyl dealer” from Treasure Valley communities.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid up to 100 times stronger than morphine, has been the leading cause of overdose deaths across the U.S. in recent years. Just a few milligrams can be lethal. The pills seized from Hernandez likely amounted to around 4 million lethal doses.
“Illicit synthetic drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine have destroyed countless lives, and Rigoverto Hernandez helped fuel this epidemic in our communities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Shohini Sinha. “His sentencing is the result of federal, state, and local partners working hand-in-hand to keep our communities safe.”
According to court documents, Hernandez was prohibited from having firearms because of prior felony convictions including burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm, and drug possession. He allegedly admitted to growing up surrounded by gang violence and joining a local gang, though claims he left the gang in 2014.
Canyon County Sheriff Keiran Donahue said the county is battling to protect citizens from the “onslaught of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs” trafficked by transcontinental criminal organizations. He promised to find, prosecute, and imprison those who “traffic poisonous and deadly drugs in Idaho.”
Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Taylor also praised the cooperative effort between agencies that brought Hernandez to justice, saying it takes everyone working together to “eradicate the wickedness of fentanyl in our community.”
In addition to the 20-year prison sentence, Judge Brailsford ordered Hernandez to serve 5 years of supervised release. He has remained in federal custody since his arrest last April.
U.S. Attorney Hurwit said the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crimes Task Force will keep working closely with law enforcement partners to go after fentanyl dealers and get them off Idaho’s streets. “They have no place here in Idaho,” Hurwit stated.
The federal prosecutor also thanked the Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office for assisting the investigation and helping secure a stiff prison sentence for Hernandez.
Over 106,699 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021, with 66% of those deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Idaho recorded a 38% increase in overdose deaths last year as the fentanyl epidemic continues ravaging communities across the U.S.