Whittier raid nets guns, drugs, hundreds of fraudulent credit cards

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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.
FRAUDBUST2“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.
FRAUDBUST3Resident 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.
FRAUDBUST4Though 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.

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Doctor from Covina indicted in federal drug trafficking case

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.

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Death at Pasadena motel investigated as possible overdose

PASADENA >> The death of a Glendale woman at a Pasadena motel Friday is being investigated as a possible drug overdose, police said.
Cleaning staff called police about 12:35 p.m. after funding a 43-year-old woman unresponsive in her motel room in the 3300 block of East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
Pasadena Fire Department paramedics pronounced the woman dead at the scene, Luna said.
Prescription pills were found in the room, and the death was being investigated as an apparent accidental drug overdose, the lieutenant said.
“Preliminary investigation does not reveal any evidence of foul play,” he said.
The police investigation is ongoing, and the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner will perform an autopsy.

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Police find 20 grams of cocaine during traffic stop in Pasadena

PASADENA >> A traffic stop led to the discovery of about 20 grams of cocaine in Pasadena Saturday afternoon, police said.
Two officers pulled over a car for a traffic violation just after 4 p.m. at Los Robles Avenue and Mountain Street, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
“During the investigation, the officers recovered a quantity of cocaine from the driver,” Luna said. “The officers also recovered a moderate amount of U.S. currency.”
Police arrested the driver, a Pasadena man in his 40s, on suspicion of possession of cocaine for sales, Luna said. Police withheld his name Sunday, citing an active investigation.

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La Mirada doctor faces up to 157 years in prison after drug dealing conviction

LOS ANGELES >> A doctor from La Mirada has been convicted of federal drug trafficking charges for the improper and illegal distribution of powerful painkillers, officials announced Friday.
A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted Dr. Andrew Sun, 78, of 14 counts of distributing controlled substances and three counts of money laundering for concealing the proceeds of his crimes, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. The conviction came after three days of trial.
Sun, who ran clinics in San Gabriel and East Los Angeles, faces up to 157 years in prison when he returns to court for sentencing Nov. 10, officials said.
His medical license was already probationary after he was targeted in a similar investigation in 2004. His license was suspended in late 2013.
Sun was ordered to appear at an Aug. 25 hearing in which the court will determine whether Sun must forfeit almost $350,000 in drug proceeds, officials said.
Sun turned himself in to authorities in April after being indicted by a indicted by a grand jury.
He was convicted of prescribing powerful drugs such as hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin, alprazolam, also known as Xanax, carisprodol, also known as Soma, and promethezine with codeine, which is used to make the street drug known as “purple drank” or “sizzurp.”
Through an undercover sting operation, investigators determined Sun “profited by prescribing addictive painkillers and other controlled substances to persons whom he believed were drug addicts, and thus that the defendant acted without lawful medical purpose,” according to court documents.
The doctor issues more than 24,000 for controlled substances, netting $1 million in cash between 2009 and 2012, according to the DOJ.
When undercover agents visited Sun seeking drugs, “Sun failed to conduct any physical examination and he sold prescriptions for $150 in cash — even when he believed he was writing the prescriptions for drug addicts,” Mrozek said.
The investigation was carried out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS, the California Department of Health Care Services and the Monterey Park Police Department.

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Sixty-seven arrested during first day of two-day rave at Whittier Narrows

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SOUTH EL MONTE >> Deputies made 67 arrests Saturday during the first day of the two-day HARD Summer 2014 music festival taking place at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, authorities said.
About 40,000 people were estimated to have attended the first day of the rave-style electronic music festival, with similar attendance expected Sunday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Of the 67 arrests made Saturday, 60 were for fake identification cards, sheriff’s Deputy Johnny Jones said.
Six people were arrested on suspicion of selling drugs, Jones said.
And one person was arrested Saturday on suspicion of robbery after stealing an event staff shirt from the back of a worker, Jones said. The suspect was apprehended following the crime, which was apparently committed in an effort to sneak into the festival.
Statistics were not available for Sunday as the concert continued, but Jones noted there had been “a few” arrests.

PHOTO – Deputies watch over the HARD Summer 2014 music festival from their command post at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area in South El Monte. (Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

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El Monte Flores gang members indicted on conspiracy, drug trafficking, other charges

LOS ANGELES — Federal authorities Wednesday arrested 18 El Monte Flores gang members and associates who used the former offices of the Boys & Girls Club as their hangout.
The 18 were among 41 people indicted by a federal grand jury last week on charges that include conspiracy, murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, and weapons violations.
Federal officials said the gang conducted illegal activities out of the Boys & Girls Club of America/San Gabriel Valley Club facilities on Mountain View Road.
“They used the club as a place where they would openly sell drugs and collect taxes,” said Vijay Rathi, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The gang also used the club, which recently held community meetings and hosted a car wash fundraiser for a Flores member who was murdered.
“It is very disturbing that a facility that is supposed to give boys and girls protection and a safe place could be used for that,” Mayor Andrew Quintero said.
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Doctor from La Mirada pleads guilty to prescribing painkillers illegally, money laundering

LOS ANGELES — A doctor from La Mirada who ran clinics in San Gabriel and East Los Angeles pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally prescribing painkillers and money laundering, officials announced.
Andrew Sun, 78, agreed to plead guilty to one count of distribution of hydrocodone and one count of money laundering, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. The powerful painkiller hydrocodone is better known by it’s brand name, Vicodin.
He surrendered to authorities April 10 after being indicted on 24 charges related to drug distribution and money laundering.
Though he pleaded guilty only to money laundering and illegally prescribing hydrocodone, “(Sun) admits in his plea agreement that he also illegally prescribed and distributed other drugs, including those best known by the brand names Xanax and Soma,” Mrozek said.
The improper prescriptions issued to undercover investigators between 2011 and 2012, “outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose,” he said.
The doctor further admitted accepting $554,070 in cash payments for the drugs, which he deposited into a personal bank account, “for the purpose of disguising the source and nature of the funds,” according to Mrozek.
Under the plea arrangement, Sun agreed to forfeit $342,000 that was seized from his bank account in July of 2012, officials added. He also agreed to pay nearly $87,000 in restitution to the California Medical Board, which participated in the investigation along with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS, the California Department of Health Services and the Monterey Park Police Department.
Sun’s medical license was suspended in 2013, according to a California Department of Consumer Affairs database.

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Kilogram of suspected cocaine seized from car in South El Monte, 3 arrested

SOUTH EL MONTE — Deputies seized more than two pounds of what was believed to be cocaine and arrested three men, including one who ran, after pulling over a car in South El Monte late Friday, authorities said.
The incident unfolded about 10 p.m. when deputies stopped a car in the area of Peck Road and Michael Hunt Drive, Sgt. A. Ben-Sahile of the sheriff’s Temple Station said.
One of the three men inside the car ran from the vehicle, initiating a search that lasted about an hour before the fleeing suspect was found hiding under a car in a nearby driveway, officials said.
The two other men who remained in the car were also arrested after deputies discovered a kilogram of a substance suspected to be cocaine — with a street value of about $30,000 — in the trunk of the car, Ben-Sahile said. The substance was to be tested to confirm its composition.
Detectives withheld the suspects’ identities Saturday as they continued their investigation, he said. They were described as Northern California men ranging from 30 to 50 years old.

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Drugs and guns seized, 4 arrested during raid at Altadena home

Sheriff’s officials raided an Altadena home Thursday, arresting four people and seizing 50 marijuana plants, methamphetamine, two guns and suspected stolen property, authorities said Friday.
Arrested were Christopher Mesa, 26, on suspicion of cultivating marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale; Stephen Mesa, 36, on suspicion of being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm, possession of methamphetamine and receiving stolen property; Jeffrey Ortiz, 29, on suspicion of receiving stolen property, as well as on outstanding narcotics warrants; and Lucero Rodriguez, 23, on suspicion of receiving stolen property and possession of marijuana, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Members of the sheriff’s Altadena Station’s Summer Violent Crime Enforcement Program and the Sheriff’s Narcotics Bureau carried out a search warrant about 9 p.m. Thursday at a home in the 500 block of West Palm Street, according to sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
“Upon execution of the search warrant, detectives recovered more than 50 live marijuana plants being grown inside the house by an elaborate artificial growing system,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “Detectives also recovered two firearms, methamphetamine, and a large amount of items believed to be stolen, such as laptops and other electronic equipment.”
The four suspects were scheduled to appear for arraignment Monday in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Pasadena Branch.

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