PASADENA >> Police arrested a man and recovered 27 grams of methamphetamine and a loaded handgun during what began as a routine traffic stop Thursday, officials said.
Sanjay Kumar Varma, 33, of Pasadena is accused of possession of methamphetamine for sale and several weapons violations following his 6:19 p.m. arrest in the 3400 block of East Foothill Boulevard, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
After stopping Varma for a traffic violation, officers conducted a pat-down search, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
They found a loaded 9mm handgun on his person, along with the drugs, he said.
Varma was being held in lieu of $80,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.
PASADENA >> Police arrested a suspect and seized 77 pounds of cocaine, a handgun and a large amount cash during a bust last week in a residential neighborhood, officials announced Sunday.
Few details were available regarding the raid, which took place Thursday in the 1000 block of Raymond Avenue, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said in a written statement.
“The warrant was based on an ongoing drug trafficking investigation,” according to the chief. “During the search of the residence, 35 kilos of cocaine, a semi-automatic handgun and a large amount of currency were recovered.”
One suspect was arrested, however his identity was not available Sunday.
“It is likely the cocaine was destined to the streets of Pasadena and surrounding cities,” Sanchez said.
Lt. John Mercado deferred comment to vice detectives, who were not available Sunday.
ARCADIA >> A routine traffic stop for running a stop sign in Arcadia early Thursday led to the discovery of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, a pipe, baggies, a scale, stolen credit cards and checks, burglary tools, officials said.
Police arrested the driver Eric Rey, 42, of West Covina, along with passengers Iris Samberg, 46, and Nicole Strohm, 34, both of Pasadena, on suspicion of a laundry list of crimes following the 2:30 a.m. traffic stop on Santa Anita Avenue, just north of the 210 Freeway, Arcadia police Lt. Mike Castro said.
In addition to the drug, identity theft-related charges, the trio is also accused of child endangerment, Castro said. The 14-year-old son of Strohm was a passenger in the Chevrolet 2500 pickup truck and was released to his father.
Ann officer saw the pickup truck blow through stop sign at 5th Avenue and Santa Clara Street, Castro said. After the driver pulled over along Santa Anita Avenue, the officer found that Rey’s driver’s license was suspended.
While searching the truck, police found a clear plastic bag containing “a large amount of a white substance determined to be methamphetamine,” Castro said. Alongside the meth, police found a digital scale and plastic baggies, often used by dealers to used to meter out portions of the drug. The exact amount of drugs recovered was not available.
Police recovered small amounts of cocaine and marijuana from the truck, along with syringes and a marijuana pipe, the lieutenant said.
Additionally, about 40 credit cards in other peoples’ names were seized, along with allegedly stolen checks, suspected stolen mail and burglary tools including bolt cutters and picks, he said.
According to county booking records, Rey Strohm were being held in lieu of $100,000 bail each, while Samberg was being held in lieu of $115,000 bail. All three were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court.
WEST COVINA >> Police discovered 28 grams of methamphetamine hidden in a Rialto man’s buttocks Sunday after taking him into custody for a probation violation following a routine traffic stop in West Covina, authorities said.
Jimmy Ontiveros, 24, was booked on suspicion of possession of narcotics for sale, possession of narcotics in a custodial environment and violating his probation stemming from a previous case, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
An officer pulled over a 2004 Dodge Intrepid just after 9 a.m. at Cameron and California avenues, the lieutenant said.
The driver was ultimately released with a citation, he said. But officers discovered that a passenger, Ontiveros, was wanted for violating his probation.
While searching the suspect during the booking process, officials first discovered a small amount of methamphetamine hidden inside Ontiveros’ sock, Patton said.
Police then discovered 28 additional grams of methamphetamine concealed between the suspect’s buttocks, he said.
In addition to possession of drugs for sales, Ontiveros is accused of an additional felony for bringing drugs into a secure portion of a police department.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Ontiveros was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
PASADENA >> Pasadena police arrested a suspected gang member and recovered 18 grams of methamphetamine, along with replica handgun, Friday afternoon, officials said.
Victor Aguilar Mendoza, 21, was booked on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine for sales, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The arrest came after an officer tried to stop Mendoza for committing a traffic violation while riding a bicycle about 5 p.m. in the 500 block of N. Marengo Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
Police chased the suspect as he fled into a nearby apartment, the lieutenant said. He obeyed commands to come out about five minutes later.
Mendoza consented to a search of his apartment, during which police found 18 grams of methamphetamine and a pistol only capable of firing “blanks,” Luna said.
Mendoza was being held in lieu of $70,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, according to booking records.
ALHAMBRA >> Police discovered a methamphetamine lab inside an Alhambra apartment Friday, officials said.
Officers checking up on an elderly man at the request of his landlord found the clandestine drug lab about 1:40 p.m. at an apartment in a complex at 110 N. Chapel Avenue, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
A landlord asked police to check on the apartment after not hearing from it’s elderly resident for several days, the sergeant said. “He was very concerned.”
Police went to the apartment and found “large pots filled with foul-smelling chemicals” throughout, Johnson said. No one was at the home, and the apartment did not appear as if anyone lived there.
Officials evacuated nine people from nearby apartments as they summoned a hazardous materials crew and a California Department of Justice team specializing in meth lab clean-up, Johnson said.
Preliminary testing confirmed the operation was a methamphetamine lab, he said.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the lab, or whether the elderly man police were initially sent to check on was involved, police said. The resident still had not been found Friday evening.
No suspects were in custody as the investigation continued, Johnson said.
The evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes about 6:30 p.m., Johnson said. The clean-up process continued Friday night.
WEST COVINA >> A police task force arrested a convicted felon Tuesday and seized a cache of 27 guns — including an assault rifle, thousands of rounds of ammunition and methamphetamine during a probation compliance check at his West Covina home, officials said.
Michael Louis Urac, 42, is accused of possession of an unauthorized assault weapon, possession of firearms by a convicted felon and possession of controlled substances and a firearm, according to Pomona police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The bust took place about 7:30 a.m. at Urac’s home in the 100 block of North Lang Avenue in West Covina, Pomona police Sgt. Bert Sanchez of the San Gabriel Valley East AB Task Force said in a written statement. Officers showed up for a probations compliance sweep, as Urac is on probation from am previous drug-related conviction.
Task force members found Urac at the home and arrested him after finding him to be in possession of methamphetamine, Sanchez said.
“During the subsequent search of his residence, a false door was located within the garage,” the sergeant said. In it were several rifles, including an assault rifle with scope and laser, and thousands of rounds of live ammunition. Several more rifles were located inside a separate bedroom belonging to the suspect. In total, 26 rifled (and) shotguns were recovered, including an assault rifle.”
Police also seized several high-capacity magazines from Urac’s home and a loaded, .380-caliber handgun from his car, Sanchez said.
According to county booking records, Urac posted $50,000 bail and the same day of his arrest and was released from custody pending his initial court appearance.
The San Gabriel Valley East AB 109 Task Force is comprised of officers from 10 San Gabriel Valley police agencies, officials said. The team’s primary task is conducting compliance checks on convicts released from custody under the guidelines of AB 109, also known as the 2011 Public Safety Realignment.
MONROVIA >> A man burned himself while allegedly trying to manufacture synthetic marijuana at a Monrovia home on New Year’s Day, authorities said.
The incident was first reported about 8:10 p.m. Thursday as a small fire at a home in the 100 block of E. Fig Avenue, Monrovia police Lt. Nick Manfredi said. A man was taken to a hospital with burns to his face and hands.
Officials determined the man had been using volatile chemicals as part of a process to create synthetic marijuana, or “spice,” the lieutenant said. “A lit cigarette caused the solution to ignite.”
Paramedics took the man to a hospital for treatment, Manfredi said. The extent of the man’s injuries was not available.
Monrovia police turned the investigation over to a regional task force. It was not clear what charges the man may face.
WHITTIER >> Police arrested four people and seized drugs, guns and hundreds of stolen or fraudulent credit cards and other identity theft-related gear during an early-morning raid Thursday at a Whittier home, officials said.
The 5 a.m. raid in the 7200 block of Lynalan Avenue was the result of a months-long investigation by the Whittier Police Department’s Special Enforcement Team, Whittier police Officer Bradley White said.
“There’s been an investigation that’s been ongoing in regard to several subjects, possibly dealing with fraud and forgery and sales of narcotics,” White said. “(Investigators) were able to get a search warrant, which was served this morning.”
A SWAT team helped with the raid, White said. Officials used flash-bang grenades and tear gas as they forced there way into the home.
Inside the home, “There were hundreds of credit cards not in the names of the suspects,” White said. Police also recovered suspected stolen checks and IDs, as well as machines used to make credit cards.
Additionally, police seized three handguns and nearly an ounce of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of about $1,000, police said.
Police arrested two men and two women who were at the home.
Resident Steven Perez, 32, of Whittier is accused of forgery, fraud, drug possession and weapons charges, White said.
Raquel Monique Olivarez, 26, and Christina Marie Arroyo, 27, both residents of the home, were arrested on suspicion of forgery and fraud, according to Whittier police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Another resident of the home, 37-year-old Joey Lojero, was cited for alleged narcotics possession, White said. And Bryan Sanchez, 19, of El Monte was jailed due to outstanding warrants.
According to booking records, Perez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance. Olivares’ bail was set at $60,000, and Arroyo was being held in lieu of $70,000 bail. Sanchez was being held without bail.
Though detectives had not yet determined exactly how the suspects obtained the allegedly stolen identifying information, White said often times, such information is taken during home and car burglaries.
Police reminded the public to avoid storing valuables, including personal information, in an unattended cars, and to make sure homes are locked and secured before leaving.
The investigation was ongoing, and additional arrested were possible, White said.
PHOTOS by Watchara Phomicinda
LOS ANGELES >> A doctor from Covina pleaded not guilty to last week in a 31-count federal drug trafficking case that could land him more than 300 years in prison, authorities said.
Dr. Daniel Cham, 47, entered his plea Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. Department of Justice officials said in a written statement. He posted a $140,000 bond and was ordered to serve home detention pending trial, scheduled for Dec. 16. He is prohibited from practicing medicine in the meantime.
Federal agents arrested Cham Wednesday at his Covina home, officials said. The doctor operated medical offices in La Puente and Artesia.
A federal grand jury returned a 31-count indictment against the doctor in October, however it remained sealed until Cham was arrested.
The indictment alleges Cham distributed powerful painkillers and other drugs to patients, including an undercover investigator, who had no legitimate medical need for them.
Anthony Williams, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles Field Office, said federal authorities take a tough stance against doctors who cross into drug dealing.
“Along with our law enforcement partners, we continue to aggressively target medical professionals who act as drug traffickers cloaked in a white lab coat,” Williams said.
If convicted of all 31 counts — which included drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud and making false statements to federal authorities — Cham faces up to 339 years behind bars, according to the DOJ.
“Unscrupulous doctors who prescribe controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose are simply fueling a black market of narcotics,” Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura said. “These doctors are the same as street dealers who face lengthy sentences in federal prison.”
The primary drugs illegally distributed by Cham include oxycodone, also known as OxyContin; hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin or Norco; alprazolam, also known as Xanax; and carisprodol, also known as Soma, officials said.
Cham often saw patients in the middle of the night on weekends, but post-dated prescriptions to make it appear they had been written during the week, according to the DOJ statement.
“In the year that ended in March 2014, Chan issued more than 5,500 prescriptions for controlled substances,” the statement said. “…and he issued more than 42,000 such prescriptions since July 2010.”
An undercover investigator visited Cham’s La Puente office three times and obtained prescriptions for powerful drugs in exchange for $200 to $300 in cash or money orders, prosecutors allege.
Cham issued the prescriptions even though the undercover agent told him he had been, “drunk and high while receiving controlled substance prescriptions,” according to the DOJ statement.
“On another occasion, Cham prescribed oxycodone even though the undercover law enforcement officer presented, in lieu of photo identification, a written notice that his license had been suspended for driving under the influence,” the statement continued.