Activists demand answers after San Jose POA exec's drug trafficking bust

Lauren Martinez Image
Thursday, April 6, 2023
Activists demand answers after SJPOA exec's drug trafficking bust
Activist gathered outside San Jose City Hall Wednesday to demand accountability after San Jose POA exec Joanne Segovia's drug trafficking bust.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Police accountability groups and human rights advocates are raising questions about a yearslong drug trafficking case.

Last week federal drug trafficking charges were filed against Joanne Segovia, the executive director of San Jose's Police Officers Association.

The San Jose Police Officers' Association said they had no knowledge of what their 20-year employee was doing. They've launched an internal investigation.

RELATED: SJPOA executive turns herself in, appears in court after being charged in drug distribution scheme

On Wednesday, activists from different community groups gathered outside San Jose City Hall asking why officials are conducting an internal investigation instead of an independent investigation with community oversight.

"We need to not have the POA just say, 'we're going to do an internal investigation.' That doesn't work," Laurie Valdez said.

Bill Armaline, criminal justice chair for the NAACP San Jose/Silicon Valley, said they have key questions.

"If the allegations are substantiated, who else was a part of this international network? Were local agencies involved in the activity? Aware of the activity? Or in positions to know about the activity," Armaline said.

RELATED: Drug smuggling allegations against police union exec hurts trust of SJPD, former police auditor says

Activists want city leaders to stop receiving funds from the association and are demanding Segovia's mugshot be released.

"We don't see how a city government, the City of San Jose in good faith can negotiate with the San Jose Police Officers Association when it's currently under a Federal investigation for running a drug ring," Raj Jayadev of Silicon Valley Debug said.

From 2015 to this year, federal investigators say Segovia had around 61 shipments of synthetic opioid drugs mailed to her home. She allegedly used her police union work computer to place orders. Shipments came from India, China, and Spain to name a few. Federal prosecutors says it was part of a scheme to distribute drugs in the U.S.

"How many people died because she brought that stuff into our community?" Laurie Valdez said.

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April 27 of last year, 18-year-old Chloe Harden lost her life to fentanyl poisoning in San Jose. Her mother, Marlene Harden, says she hopes this case brings attention to a larger problem.

"I feel like I'm having a really hard time being heard about the fight against fentanyl," Harden said.

Segovia was released under strict conditions until her next court appearance on April 28.

"I would really want her to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I know she's facing 20 years maximum and I just don't feel like that's enough time," Harden said.

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