November 29, 2023

A Riverside County sheriff’s deputy who worked in a county jail was arrested over the weekend for possessing and planning to sell more than 40 pounds of narcotics, according to the sheriff’s office.

The correctional officer, Jorge Alberto Oceguera-Rocha, 25, is suspected of selling or sharing the narcotics within the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility, where he has worked since 2019, according to a source who requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Oceguera-Rocha was arrested Saturday night following a traffic stop on the 10 Freeway in Calimesa on suspicion of possessing and intending to sell over 44 pounds of narcotics, according to county records.

He was also suspected of possession of a controlled substance with a firearm.

He was booked into the Cois Byrd Detention Center and ordered held on $1-million bail. He has not yet been charged by the district attorney.

He resigned following his arrest, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office issued a press release on the arrest more than 24 hours after The Times initially inquired about the case against Oceguera-Rocha. The Sheriff’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.

Read more: 18 people died in Riverside County jails last year. Now one family is suing, and others may too

The Sheriff’s Office did not say in the press release if Oceguera-Rocha is suspected of selling or distributing the narcotics within the correctional facility.

Michael Lujan, who ran for Riverside County sheriff and lost to Sheriff Chad Bianco in 2022, said that the office must investigate what Oceguera-Rocha was doing with the drugs.

“With this amount of narcotics, it’s not for personal use and one has to investigate whether or not he was smuggling narcotics into the jail and sharing them either with other employees, civil staff or inmates,” Lujan said.

Lujan said that Oceguera-Rocha worked for the transportation unit, which is responsible for moving inmates to court dates and medical appointments, among other things.

Lujan noted that the arrest comes as jail deaths have surged in Riverside.

Eighteen inmates died in the county in 2022, making it the deadliest year for the county’s jails in more than a decade.

At least seven of the deaths were the result of drug overdoses.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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