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Officer Finds 38 Grams of Suspected Fentanyl After Willits Traffic Stop—Two Booked Accused of Possession

The following is a press release issued by the Willits Police Department. The information has not been proven in a court of law and any individuals described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty:


On July 24, 2022 at approximately 8:20 PM, Willits Police Department (WPD) Officer  Basurto was patrolling the area of E. San Francisco Ave and Railroad Ave when he conducted a vehicle stop in the 200 block of E. San Francisco Ave. The vehicle was occupied by two male adults, later identified as Joseph Russo and Frank Sorbera. WPD  Officer Avalos arrived and assisted Officer Basurto with the traffic stop. 

The driver, Russo, attempted to falsely impersonate someone else by giving officers a  false name. The driver was ultimately properly identified and found to be operating the vehicle with a suspended driver’s license. Based on the driver operating the vehicle with a suspended driver’s license, the vehicle was subject to tow. During an inventory of the vehicle, approximately 38 grams of suspected fentanyl was located concealed in the vehicle along with numerous items of drug paraphernalia. The fentanyl was located in the passenger area of the vehicle where Sorbera had been sitting. The suspected fentanyl was prepackaged in over 25 small plastic baggies and ready for individual sales.  

Russo and Sorbera were arrested and booked at the Mendocino County Jail for violation of 182(a) PC- Conspiracy, 11351 HS- Possession of a Controlled Substance for Sales,  11352 HS- Transportation of a Controlled Substance, 11350(a) HS- Possession of a  Controlled Substance and 11364(a) HS- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Russo was also charged with 529 PC- False Impersonation and 14601.2 CVC- Driving on a  Suspended License.  

This was the second time this year Sorbera has been arrested for suspected sales of fentanyl within the city limits.  

It should be noted that the Willits PD had received multiple tips from concerned neighbors related to possible narcotic activities being conducted in this area. The Willits  Police Department would like to thank our community members in assisting us with valuable information. 

The Willits Police Department participates in the Neighborhood Watch program which  empowers citizens to become active in community efforts through peer groups and  

positive interactions with WPD officers in an effort to reduce crime and improve the community’s quality of life.  

Any inquiries regarding the program should be directed to Sgt. Brady at (707) 459-6122.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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