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October 29, 2012

Federal Authorities Arrest 12 People Involved in Operation of Nine Illegal Marijuana Storefronts in Orange and Los Angeles Counties

SANTA ANA, California – A dozen people associated with a chain of nine marijuana stores that operated across Orange and Los Angeles counties were arrested this morning on federal drug trafficking charges. The 12 arrested are among 14 people named in a 14-count indictment returned last week by a federal grand jury.

The indictment outlines a narcotics-trafficking conspiracy led by John Melvin Walker, who owned and operated nine marijuana stores in cities across the two counties. The conspiracy count alleges that the 14 defendants participated in a scheme that distributed, at the very least, a ton of marijuana through the storefronts.

The nine marijuana stores allegedly operated by Walker were Alternative Herbal Health in Long Beach, Safe Harbor Collective in Dana Point, Garden Grove Alternative Care in Garden Grove, Santa Ana Superior Care in Santa Ana, Belmont Shore Natural Care in Long Beach, Santa Fe Compassionate Health Care in Santa Fe Springs, Costa Mesa Patients Association in Costa Mesa, the Whittier Collective in Whittier, and APCC (also known as the “San Juan Capistrano Store”) in San Juan Capistrano. Most of the stores previously were the subject of search warrants executed in 2010 and 2011. Most of the nine stores are now closed, but several are believed to still be in operation, including Belmont Shore Natural Care.

The investigation in this case revealed that the nine marijuana stores generated tens of millions of dollars in income, with the indictment alleging that in 2009 alone Safe Harbor Collective had profits of approximately $2.4 million.

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August 31, 2012

Federal Authorities Charge 43 People Linked to Drug-Trafficking Groups that Brought Large Quantities of Narcotics from Mexico

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney, Los Angeles Drug Attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 3:35 pm

LOS ANGELES – Federal agents this morning arrested 17 defendants and executed search warrants at a dozen locations across Southern California – including a Van Nuys taco shop and a North Hollywood auto repair business – linked to a network of drug trafficking cells and Mexico-based suppliers that imported large quantities of Mexican cocaine, heroin and high-purity crystal methamphetamine into the Los Angeles area.

Those arrested today are among 43 defendants named in federal charges stemming from an 10-month wiretap investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Torrance Police Department and IRS-Criminal Investigation. According to a criminal complaint unsealed this morning, the investigation uncovered a loose-knit ring of drug importers, couriers and distributors operating throughout Southern California.

The criminal complaint names 43 defendants, 17 of whom were arrested this morning. Four more defendants were already in federal custody. Authorities are continuing to search for 22 defendants, most of whom are believed to be in Mexico at this time.

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint discusses four loosely related drug-distribution cells, one of which is allegedly operated by the owner of a San Fernando Valley auto shop. According to the affidavit, Gerardo Celis Gaytan, 41, of Sun Valley, who operates Campos Auto Repair in North Hollywood, was heard on federal wiretaps discussing loads of heroin and other drugs smuggled from Mexico in vehicles his auto repair shop had outfitted with hidden compartments.

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April 12, 2012

Los Angeles Resident Sentenced to 102 Months for Firearms and Narcotics Violations

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 7:41 am

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced today that Los Angeles resident, Calvin Colbert, 24, was sentenced to 102 months in federal prison by United States District Judge George H. Wu. Colbert was arrested in 2009 as part of an ATF and San Bernardino Police Department (SBPD) investigation for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in the form of crack cocaine.

The investigation into Colbert was initiated after the San Bernardino Police Department’s Narcotics Bureau received information of drug sales at the Economy Inn located at 685 W. 6th Street, San Bernardino. SBPD along with ATF conducted undercover narcotic purchases which revealed Colbert was selling from inside the motel and was in possession of a firearm in furtherance of his narcotic sales. It was later determined that the firearm was reported stolen in Nevada. Colbert was found guilty by a jury of his peers December 2010 and sentenced April 9.

“This sentencing should send a clear message to those engaged in illegal firearms and narcotics activity that crime does not pay,” said Christopher Shaefer acting Special Agent in Charge, ATF Los Angeles Field Division. “ATF with our partnership with the San Bernardino Police Department will continue to be on the frontline of pursuing violent criminals in that city.”

January 5, 2012

Santa Barbara Doctor Arrested on Federal Charges for Allegedly Writing Prescriptions for Huge Quantities of Dangerous Narcotics

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 5:40 am

Some of the Prescriptions are Linked to Drug Overdose Deaths

SANTA ANA, California – A Santa Barbara physician was arrested this morning on federal drug trafficking charges for allegedly writing prescriptions for powerful painkillers, such as OxyContin, for “patients” who were drug addicts – some of whom diverted the pills they received to the black market and or suffered fatal overdoses from the narcotics.

Julio Gabriel Diaz, 63, who operates the Family Medical Clinic in Santa Barbara, was arrested this morning at his Goleta residence by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration and officers with the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Diaz was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint filed in United States District Court that charges him with distribution of controlled substances.

“The illegal sale and abuse of prescription narcotics is a growing problem that feeds addictions and leads to other criminal conduct,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “Many of the illegal prescription drugs that find their way to the street come from doctors who prescribe them for money without medical justification. These doctors are drug dealers and they will face stiff penalties in federal court.”

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December 13, 2011

14 Arrested in Task Force Operation Targeting Whittier-Based Drug Trafficking Organization and Mexican Suppliers

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 10:52 am

LOS ANGELES – Federal and local authorities this morning arrested 14 defendants who are named in a federal indictment that alleges widespread drug trafficking activities by a Whittier-based organization and its Mexico-based suppliers of cocaine and methamphetamine. An additional five defendants named in the indictment are already in custody.

Those arrested this morning are among 44 defendants named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury last month. Wiretapped communications outlined in the indictment involved discussions of shipments as large as 90 kilograms of cocaine and 30 pounds of methamphetamine.

During the course of the investigation that led to this morning’s arrests, authorities made seizures totaling approximately 75 pounds of methamphetamine, 100 kilograms of cocaine and $1.1 million in cash. Just this morning, authorities seized more than 10 pounds of methamphetamine and a firearm.

“Hundreds of pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine have been taken off the streets as a result of this collaborative investigation between the DEA and the Whittier Police Department,” said Timothy J. Landrum, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA in Los Angeles. “Today’s arrests are welcome news for Southern California residents who want dangerous drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine out of our neighborhoods.”

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November 20, 2011

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Seizure of $1.8 Million Worth of Cocaine from Mexican Cartel

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 7:39 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the seizure yesterday of 18.5 kilos of cocaine worth an estimated $1.85 million as part of a Department of Justice-led operation that targeted a cartel based in Baja California that distributes cocaine throughout Southern California.

“This operation is an example of the complex and multi-jurisdictional work that Department of Justice agents do every day to keep California safe,” Attorney General Harris said. “I commend these agents for their bravery and professional excellence.”

Department of Justice special agents from the Inland Crackdown Allied Task Force (INCA) conducted an undercover sting operation into the cartel’s drug trafficking activities. Working with a confidential informant, an undercover agent arranged to purchase cocaine from an individual associated with a cartel based in Baja California. Yesterday, at a prearranged meeting in a hotel parking lot in Colton, agents arrested two men and seized 18.5 kilos of cocaine.

Juan Mora Flores, 40, of Tecate, Mexico and Jose Vega Diaz, 47, of Whittier, CA, were arrested and booked at the Riverside County Jail. Both men are being held on $1 million bail.

November 18, 2011

Gang Member Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison for Drug Trafficking

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 1:51 am

LOS ANGELES – A Rollin 30’s Harlem Crip gang member who was arrested in 2008 as part of a large Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation dubbed “Operation Criptonite” was sentenced to 240 months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute oxycotin by United States Federal District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez.

Shaunta Taylor, 39, who also received 36 months of supervised release, was a previously convicted felon in Calif., and also a member of the Rollin 30’s Harlem Crip criminal street gang which claims territory in parts of south central Los Angeles.

“This 20 year sentence will serve as a reminder to gang members that engaged in acts that promote violence in the communities, that they will not be tolerated”, said John A. Torres, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Los Angeles Field Division. “This was a great investigation by all involved and capped off by a sentence that shows that crime does not pay. We will not see this character for a long time.”

“Today’s lengthy sentence sends a strong message to gang members everywhere that dealing in federally prescribed narcotics will be met with severe sanctions and will result in serious prison sentences,” said United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr.

This investigation was part of a larger two year ATF, DEA, Los Angeles Police Department, and the California Department of Corrections–Special Services Unit, that targeted the Rollin 30’s gang. Approximately 65 gang members were arrested and prosecuted for firearms and narcotics related charges. The Rollin 30’s have been known to engage in narcotics trafficking, home invasion robberies and firearms trafficking.

November 2, 2011

Oxnard Gang Members Arrested on Federal Drug and Gun Trafficking Charges in Second Part of Operation ‘Supernova’

Filed under: Los Angeles Drug Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 11:08 pm

Arrests Follow Undercover Deal involving 10 Pounds of Methamphetamine

LOS ANGELES – In the second phase of Operation “Supernova,” which is an investigation into Ventura County’s largest street gang, three defendants have been arrested on federal drug distribution and firearms trafficking charges.

The arrests on Tuesday afternoon followed an undercover operation in Camarillo, where a Colonia Chiques street gang member was in possession of 10 pounds of methamphetamine that he had agreed to sell, along with four kilograms of cocaine, to undercover operatives for a total price of $200,000. That street gang member, Luis Manuel Tapia, who is believed to be a leader of the Colonia Chiques, is accused in a criminal complaint of engaging in a series of transactions that involve narcotics and weapons, including a fully automatic assault rifle.

Yesterday’s arrests are the result of an investigation into the Colonia Chiques, which was formed in the 1970s, has more than 1,000 documented members, and has strong ties to the Mexican Mafia prison gang. In the first part of Operation Supernova (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/pressroom/pr2011/018.html), federal prosecutors have convicted 11 defendants who have received sentences of up to 25 years in prison.

In a criminal complaint unsealed yesterday, six defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to sell firearms without a dealer license. The defendants named in the criminal complaint are:

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October 27, 2011

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Seizure of $5 Million Worth of Cocaine from Mexican Cartel

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 2:37 am

SAN FRANCISCO — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the seizure last week of more than 50 kilos of cocaine worth an estimated $5 million as part of a Department of Justice-led undercover operation targeting the Guadalajara Cartel, an organization that smuggles large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine into California.

Department of Justice special agents from the Inland Crackdown Allied Task Force (INCA) conducted an undercover sting operation into the cartel’s drug trafficking activities. An undercover agent arranged to purchase cocaine from two individuals associated with the cartel. Last Thursday, at a prearranged meeting in a parking lot in Bellflower, agents arrested the two men and seized 42 kilos of cocaine. The Long Beach Police Department assisted the task force by serving a search warrant at a stash house in Bell Gardens, and seized an additional 9 kilos of cocaine and approximately $39,500 in drug proceeds.

Giovani Flores-Arias of Sinaloa, Mexico and Rene Guerrero of Indio, CA, were arrested and booked at the Long Beach Police Department. Flores is being held without bail and Guerrero is being held on $2 million bail. If convicted, the men each face a maximum of 25 years in state prison.

Some of the cocaine - which has an estimated street value of $5.1 million - was slated to be transported across the country for distribution. Previously, agents seized 22 pounds of methamphetamine from the Guadalajara drug cartel.

October 20, 2011

Task Force Investigation Results in Whittier-Area Gang Members Being Named in Federal Narcotics Trafficking Indictment

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 10:33 pm

LOS ANGELES – An 18-month task force investigation this morning resulted in the arrest of 23 individuals – mostly gang members – who are named in a federal drug trafficking indictment that alleges they participated in a methamphetamine distribution organization that operated in Whittier and surrounding communities.

The main indictment names 31 defendants, all of whom are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Two other people are named in single-defendant indictments, which means that Operation Grand Slam has resulted in charges against 33 defendants. In addition to the 23 defendants arrested this morning, six defendants were already in custody. Authorities are continuing to search for four fugitives.

Operation Grand Slam was an 18-month investigation into a methamphetamine distribution network that was responsible for street-level sales of the drug in the areas of Whittier, Santa Fe Springs and Pico Rivera. The drug ring allegedly was responsible for distributing nearly pure methamphetamine in transactions as large as one-half pound. Most of the defendants are affiliated with area street gangs, and many of the defendants are members and associates of the Los Nietos street gang.

Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Landrum said: “Criminal street gangs impact our communities through drug related violence as they attempt to expand their operations. Today’s arrests demonstrate the results that can be achieved as law enforcement joins together to reduce the threat of gangs in our neighborhoods.”

The main indictment alleges 13 counts, and all 31 defendants named in that indictment are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Certain defendants are additionally charged with possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and felon in possession of a firearm. If convicted, all 31 defendants face potential life sentences, and all of them face mandatory minimum sentences of at least five years in federal prison.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Those taken into custody this morning will be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

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