UPDATED: Police seize massive cache of drugs from West Covina home; 2 arrested


WEST COVINA >> Detectives arrested two men and dismantled a large-scale drug distribution ring operating out of a home in an affluent West Covina neighborhood on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
An ongoing narcotics investigation led investigators to show with a search warrant about 5 p.m. at the home in the 2700 block of South Citrus Street, in the South Hills neighborhood, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
There, officers discovered 120 pounds of methamphetamine, 17.6 pounds of cocaine and 110 pounds of marijuana, he said.
The massive amount of drugs seized at the “very sophisticated drug operation” required a truck to transport, the according to the lieutenant.
Packaging materials and other evidence of a large-scale drug sales operation were also found at the home, officials said.
Two men were arrested at the home without a struggle, police said.
Ceasar Eduardo Santiesteban, 24, of Los Angeles and Erik Alejandro Martinez, 41, of Fresno, were booked on suspicion of possession of drugs for sales, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
They were being held in lieu of $2 million bail each pending their initial court appearances.

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Two suspects and dog burned fire at alleged ‘honey oil’ lab at South El Monte motel

SOUTH EL MONTE >> Two men and a dog suffered burns when a fire broke out at a hash oil extraction lab operating out of a South El Monte motel early Sunday, authorities said. A third, possibly injured suspect was believed to be at large.
Los Angeles County deputies and firefighters responding to reports of a structure fire about 12:40 a.m. encountered several rooms ablaze at the Motel 6, 1228 Durfee Ave., according to Deputy Lisa Jansen of the sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames, she said. Two men, as well as a dog, suffered burns in the fire.
One of the men suffered major burn injuries, while the second man’s injuries appeared less severe, Sgt. James Long said. An update on their conditions was not available.
“Detectives from Arson-Explosives Detail responded and, based on recovered evidence, determined there was a possible ‘honey oil’ marijuana extraction laboratory at the location,” Jansen said in a written statement. Deputies seized equipment associated with the alleged hash oil extraction.
Officials took the two suspects to a hospital to receive treatment prior to facing potential criminal charges, officials said. The injured dog was taken to a veterinary hospital in unknown condition.
“Investigators believe another suspect, with possible burn injuries, may have left the location prior to their arrival,” Jansen said.
Deputies found scorched clothing believed to have been shed by the third suspect before fleeing the scene, Long said. No description of the man was available.
Officials estimated that the fire caused $80,000 worth of damage to the motel.
Detectives from the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force’s Clandestine Laboratory Team responded to the scene and is spearheading the investigation.
Anyone with information is urged to contact LA IMPACT at 323-869-6874. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Two pounds of meth seized, suspect jailed in South San Gabriel raid


SOUTH SAN GABRIEL >> Deputies arrested a man and seized two pounds of methamphetamine and heroin while carrying out a search warrant Wednesday morning in South San Gabriel, officials said.
The bust took place during the early-morning hours in a residential neighborhood in the 7800 block of La Merced Road in the unincorporated county area just outside of Rosemead, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Deputies from the Rosemead Special Assignment Team seized about two pounds of methamphetamine, as well as a significant amount of heroin, Capt. David Flores said. The suspect is accused of possession of both substances for sales.
The man was arrested without a struggle, Flores said. Detectives withheld his identity Wednesday afternoon as they continued following investigative leads.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Temple Station at 626-285-7171. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Routine traffic stop leads to arrest of ex-con in San Marino


SAN MARINO >> What began as an ordinary traffic stop in San Marino on Wednesday led police to arrest an ex-felon on suspicion of burglary-, drug- and weapons-related offenses and recover property believed to have been stolen from homes in San Marino and Long Beach.
Thomas Gordon Dandurand, 37, of Riverside, was booked on suspicion of receiving stolen property, possession of burglary tools, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, being a convicted felon in possession of a stun gun and possession of an imitation firearm, according to San Marino police Sgt. Robert Cervantes.
Officers pulled a car for traffic violations about 1:14 a.m. at San Marino Avenue and Lorain Road, the sergeant said in a written statement.
While speaking to the driver, later identified as (Dandurand), an officer observed the vehicle was filled with miscellaneous items, including burglary tools,” he said. “Dandurand was subsequently arrested for the burglary tools and was transported to the Alhambra jail for booking.”
Inside Dandurand’s car, police found several laptop computers and tablet computers, drug paraphernalia, methamphetamine, stun guns and an imitation firearm, Cervantes said. “Also located were items that had been stolen from homes in San Marino and Long Beach.”
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Dandurand was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information was asked to contact San Marino police Detective Garcia at 626-300-0726. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Final suspect in La Mirada-based bank fraud ring captured

The last of 13 defendants charged in connection with an alleged La Mirada-based credit card skimming and drug trafficking ring has been captured in Orange County, authorities announced Friday.
Lloyd Luis Leyh, of Huntington Beach, was apprehended Thursday in Orange, FBI officials announced via Twitter. Details of his arrest were not available.
He joined a dozen other suspects already in custody in connection with the federal 27-count indictment announced last month.
The suspects —  many of which have ties to La Mirada- and Norwalk-area street gangs, such as the La Mirada Punks, the Carmelas and the Nazi Low Riders — are accused of using credit card skimming machines to steal the information from more than 500 credit cards, according to U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek. Many of the credit card numbers were obtained at a Huntington Beach restaurant.
Prosecutors allege the ring then made expensive purchases, then returned to items to stores for cash, netting more than $500,000.
Three of the defendants are also accused of methamphetamine trafficking, and one is charged with weapons violations.
Federal officials said the investigation has been ongoing for more than two years.

PHOTO courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice

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Industry deputies seize guns, drugs during raid in West Covina

INDUSTRY >> Detectives following up on an Industry attempted burglary investigation arrested two men and seized two pounds of methamphetamine, a large amount of marijuana, cocaine, three guns and stolen property while carrying out a search warrant in West Covina on Tuesday, authorities said.
The bust took place in the morning at a home in West Covina, Capt. Tim Murakami of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Industry Station said.
Detectives had obtained a search warrant from the home as part of an investigation into a burglary attempt that took place in Industry about a week earlier, the captain said. Would-be burglars had rammed a rental car into the roll-up door of a business in an unsuccessful attempt to break in.
While serving the warrant, investigators found more than they had bargained for.
Recovered was a sawed-off shotgun, two stolen handguns, about two pounds of methamphetamine, a large amount of marijuana, cocaine, stolen property and a ski mask, according to Murakami.
In addition, deputies seized equipment used to both grow marijuana, as well as process it into concentrated “honey oil,” he said.
Two men at the home were arrested on suspicion of multiple felony gun and drug charges, Murakami said. Their identities were not available Wednesday afternoon.

PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Duarte attempted burglary suspects jailed; loaded gun an heroin seized


DUARTE >> A report of an apparent burglary in progress in Duarte led deputies to arrest three suspects and recover a loaded pistol, as well as about an ounce of heroin, authorities said.
The incident began about 12:40 p.m. when man called 911 report two men and a women were at his front door in the 2900 block of Elda Street, jiggling the door handle in an attempt to break in, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Hahnlein said.
“The resident reported that the individuals did not enter his house and left the area in a black Range Rover,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Deputies soon saw and pulled over an SUV matching the description of the burglar’s vehicle at Royal Oaks Drive and Greenbank Avenue in Duarte,
“The female driver had a no-bail warrant out of Oregon and was driving with a suspended license,” according to the statement. “A loaded .40-caliber (handgun) was found in the vehicle along with approximately an ounce of heroin.”
Further information regarding that the woman was wanted for out of state was not available.
The woman, along with two male passengers, were expected to be booked on suspicion of attempted burglary and possession of heroin for sales, Hahnlein said.
Karine Garabedyan, 32, Rosalio LopezUribe, 27, and Joshua Taft, 33, all of Oregon were expected to be booked on suspicion of attempted burglary and possession of heroin for sales, Hahnlein said. At least one of the suspects was also expected to face charged in connection with the gun.

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Officer follows nose to marijuana grow in Covina: Hacienda Heights man jailed

COVINA >> A “strong smell of marijuana” led police to discover a pot grow and hash lab, as well as other drugs, inside a commercial building in Covina on Saturday, officials said.
Michael Ray Valdez, 28, of Hacienda Heights was arrested on suspicion of drug manufacturing, identity theft and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to Covina police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The bust took place about 2:40 a.m. after a patrol officer stopped to talk to two “suspicious persons” hanging out near a commercial building in the 1000 block of East Edna Place, Covina police said in a written statement.
“During the investigation, the strong smell of marijuana was noticed coming from inside the building and the subjects admitted that marijuana was being grown inside in the industrial building,” according to the statement.
Officer uprooted 120 marijuana plants from the building, as well as marijuana that had already been harvested, authorities said.
“Evidence that the marijuana was being processed into hash, hash oil and wax was also found at the location, along with evidence of methamphetamine use and hallucinogenic mushrooms,” the statement said.
Police said the owner of the businesses admitted knowing about the marijuana grow, but denied having anything to do with the other drugs. He was not arrested as the investigation continues.
According to booking records, Valdez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in the West Covina branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Covina Police Department

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Handicapped space violation in Irwindale leads to arrest of wanted ex-con, seizure of drugs and gun

IRWINDALE >> Police arrested an ex-con with drugs, a loaded handgun and an active arrest warrant after approaching him for illegally parking in a handicapped stall outside an Irwindale convenience store early Saturday, authorities said.
James Matthew Doke, 31, of Duarte was ultimately booked on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle, heroin possession and possession of methamphetamine for sales, according to Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto. He was also being held on a warrant for violating the terms of his “Post-Release Community Supervision” felony probation under AB 109 guidelines.
The alleged inconsiderate parking violation first drew the attention of an officer about 3:20 a.m. to an ARCO gas station and ampm minimart at 16000 E. Foothill Blvd.
“During the course of the officer’s investigation, the officer found that the subject had an active ‘no bail’ warrant for his arrest,” Gatto said in a written statement.
After detaining Doke in connection with the warrant, “It was subsequently found that the suspect was in possession of a loaded semi-automatic handgun, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana,” Gatto said. “It was also found that the subject was a convicted felon.”
Police took Doke into custody without a struggle.
In addition to small amounts of heroin and recently-legalized marijuana, officers seized about 10 grams of methamphetamine, along with “paraphernalia that would be indicative of narcotics sales,” Gatto said.
Doke’s extensive criminal history dates back to age 19, Los Angeles County Superior Court records show.
He was convicted of possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and forging an officials government seal in 2004. A charge of check fraud was dismissed.
Doke was convicted of being under the influence of drugs in 2005, as well as auto theft and resisting or obstructing police in 2006, records show.
He pleaded “no contest” to a charge of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer in 2011, while a charge of auto theft with a prior auto theft conviction was dismissed.
Doke was again convicted of resisting or obstructing police in 2011. A charge of possession of a stun gun by a convicted felon was dropped.
In 2013, Doke was convicted of auto theft with a prior auto theft conviction, and his probation was revoked for a violation later the same year.
He was arrested once more on Nov. 17, 2016, for violation his AB 109 felony probation. He received a sentence of 40 days in jail, but was released after 10.
Officials filed another allegation of violating his felony probation in October of 2016, but Doke failed to appear in court, resulting in the warrant on which he was being sought at the time of his arrest on Sunday morning.
Under AB 109, also known as the “California Public Safety Realignment” of 2011, those convicted of crimes deemed, “non-serious,” “nonviolent,” and “non-sexual,” can be supervised by county probation departments, rather than the more stringent oversight of state parole agents.
In determining eligibility, the law considers only convicts’ most recent conviction — in the case of Doke, auto theft — and not prior offenses. And critics of the legislation, such as the Association of Deputy District Attorneys in Los Angeles, have pointed out that crimes including assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer are considered to be a nonviolent offenses for the purposes of AB 109.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Doke was being held without bail at the Glendora Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in the West Covina branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The law, as well as others aimed at meeting a federal mandate to reduce overcrowding in California prisons, has come under renewed scrutiny from critics in recent weeks after Whittier police Officer Keith Boyer was shot to death on Feb. 20, allegedly by a gang member with a lengthy criminal history who had been in and out of jail five times in the eight months prior to the deadly shooting.

PHOTO: Police arrested a wanted ex-convict and seized this handgun, along with methampetamine, heroin and marijuana, after approaching a Duarte man for illegally parking in a handicapped parking space outside an ampm minimart at 16000 E. Foothill Blvd. in Irwindale on Sunday, March 26, 2017. (Courtesy, Irwindale Polcie Department)

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West Covina man faces federal charges after large-scale drug raid

LOS ANGELES >> Prosecutors filed federal charges this week against an alleged drug runner from West Covina after police found 1.25 pounds of methamphetamine and 28 guns in his house earlier this month, authorities said.
A federal complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles charges Edwin Francisco Reyes, 44, with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute,
Chino police investigators showed up with a search warrant on March 2 at home Reyes shares with his wife and four children on East Grovecenter Drive in West Covina, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. It was not clear Friday why the investigation was spearheaded by the Chino Police Department.
“During the search, officers with the Chino Police Department seized 532 grams — or nearly 19 ounces — of methamphetamine,” according to Mrozek.
Investigators also recovered a total of 28 guns, including six handguns and two AR-15-style rifles, were also seized from Reyes’ home. As a previously convicted felon, Reyes is barred from possession guns or ammunition.
According to the complaint, police also found a pistol silencer and a large amount of ammunition in the home.
“The affidavit alleges that Reyes admitted being involved in a drug trafficking ring as a runner who delivered drugs to buyers in exchange for cash,” Mrozek said. “On the day the search warrant was executed, according to the affidavit, Reyes admitted picking up five pounds of methamphetamine to deliver to Ontario.”
Reyes was being held in state custody Friday, but was expected to be turned over to federal custody next week.
If convicted as charged, Reyes faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, and a maximum penalty of life behind bars.
Reyes, who is currently in state custody, is expected to be handed over to federal authorities next week.
If he is convicted of the charge of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, Reyes would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison.

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