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.
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
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)
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.
LOS ANGELES >> Two Santa Fe Springs men arrested in a jailed in a 672-pound cocaine bust linked to the Sinaloa drug cartel received prison sentences of more than two decades each last week, authorities said.
Eddie Perez, 43, and Jose Garcia Samano, 41, have been behind bars since June 2, 2015, when a Los Angeles County sheriff’s task force carried out a raid at a home in the 11400 block of Charleseworth Road in Santa Fe Springs, where deputies seized 562 pounds of cocaine.
The bust took place a day after deputies arrested two other men linked to the drug ring after pulling over their car in their hometown of Victorville and discovering 110 pounds of the drug in the trunk of their vehicle, according to officials from sheriff’s Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force, or L.A. IMPACT. The large-scale drug-dealing operation was believed to be linked to the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico. Investigators valued the seized cocaine at $35 million.
•Photos: Santa Fe Springs/Victorville cocaine bust
At their sentencing hearing on March 9, Perez received a prison term of 23 years, while Samano was sentenced to 27 years in state prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said.
Perez had pleaded guilty to selling a controlled substance, conspiracy to commit a crime and two counts of possession of a controlled substance, Risling said. Samano pleaded guilty to selling a controlled substance and conspiracy.
The two other defendants in the case, who were arrested during the traffic stop in Victorville, are already serving time for their roles in the cocaine ring.
Eligio Alvarez Manriquez, 27, received a sentence of 22 years in state prison in February after pleading “no contest” to selling a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy, according to Risling. Jose Manuel Lopez, 25, was sentenced to three years, to be served in county jail, in November after pleading guilty to a single charge of conspiracy.
A woman who was initially arrested along with Manriquez and Lopez was ultimately released without charges due to a lack of evidence of her involvement, officials said.
FILE PHOTOS by Melissa Masatani
LA HABRA >> Police arrested five people and recovered more than 5 ounces of heroin and 15 grams of methamphetamine after a theft victim helped police track down his stolen cell phone late Saturday, authorities said.
Police responded to 600 block of East Ember Lane about 10:35 p.m. in connection with a cell phone theft reported earlier in the evening at a shopping center in the 900 block of North Harbor Boulevard, La Habra police Lt. Adam Foster said.
“After the initial theft report, the victim was able to track the phone and this resulted in a continuation of the investigation,” police said in a written statement. The victim notified police of the stolen phone’s location.
But once police arrived at the home where the cell phone had been tracked to, the investigation grew into more than a case of a stolen cell phone.
“One-hundred and fifty grams of heroin and 15 grams of methamphetamine were confiscated as evidence,” the statement said.
“After the investigation, five people were arrested for various charges, including: possession of controlled substances, possession of narcotics for sales, possession of a prohibited weapon, possession of methamphetamine for sales, possession of controlled substance paraphernalia, grand theft, conspiracy to commit crime, and possession of methamphetamine.”
One of those arrested also had a pre-existing warrant, police said.
The identities of the five men and women arrested were not available Sunday as the investigation continued, Foster said.
Anyone with information can reach La Habra police at 562-383-4300. Tips may also be submitted to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-847-6227.
LA HABRA >> Police arrested a man for drug possession after finding him living in an elaborate makeshift shelter set up on top of a La Habra auto parts store late Saturday.
Employees of O’Reilly Auto Parts, along Whittier Boulevard just east of Hacienda Road, called police shortly after 10 p.m. to report hearing footsteps on the roof of the building, La Habra police Sgt. Rob Diehl said.
Officers climbed up onto the roof and discovered the source of the noise.
A man had set up a small but well-furnished living space under the eaves overhanging the roof, police said. It included a queen-size bed and a toilet fashioned from a bucket and a toilet seat.
While it was unknown how long the man had been residing on top of the auto parts store, “He must have been up there quite a while,” Diehl said.
Police also discovered the man was in possession of methamphetamine and paraphernalia, he said.
Martin Rowe, 45, was arrested on suspicion of possessing the contraband before being released with a citation, Diehl said.
EL MONTE >> Police jailed a convicted felon from Walnut early Friday after recovering 3,300 marijuana plants, 308 pounds of finished pot, an ounce of methamphetamine and a loaded gun from a warehouse in El Monte, authorities said.
Brian Lee Skipper, 46, was arrested during the 7 a.m. raid at a commercial building at 2645 Merced Ave., according to El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna. Investigators showed up with a search warrant, seeking an illicit marijuana-growing operation.
“Upon entry, police personnel located (Skipper) and numerous pieces of equipment and devices used for the cultivation of marijuana and concentrated cannabis,” Luna said in a written statement, “In addition, detectives located methamphetamine, a loaded firearm and surveillance and security equipment.”
Police also found “numerous types of hazardous chemicals” used in the production of concentrated cannabis, also known as “wax” or “honey oil.”
“As a result, the location was vacated and additional investigators from the L.A. Impact Narcotics Team and Los Angeles County Hazardous Materials responded,” Luna said. “An additional investigation was completed as well as a cleanup which rendered the property safe.”
Police also allege the grow operation was wired to bypass the electric meter and steal power from the grid.
Skipper was booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sales, operating a chemical drug lab, possession of methamphetamine for sale, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and theft of utility services.
The seized marijuana and methamphetamine carry an estimated street value of $750,000, Luna said.
Skipper, a convicted felon who was on active probation, was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Skipper just pleaded guilty in January of Possession of methamphetamine for sale and theft of utlities in a case first filed in 2014, according to San Bernardino Superior Court records. He also admitted a prior drug offense. Additional charges of cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sales were dismissed.
He was also convicted in San Bernardino County of domestic abuse in June of 2006, and of making criminal threats in 2001, records show.
In Los Angeles County, Skipper’s criminal history stretches from 1989 to 2011 and includes convictions for drug possession, assault and battery, an illegal weapon violation and driving on a suspended or revoked license.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact El Monte police at 626-580-2100, or by email at email@example.com.
PHOTO of Brian Lee Skipper, 46, of Walnut courtesy of the El Monte Police Department
ROSEMEAD >> What began as a probation compliance check in Rosemead on Tuesday led deputies to discover a cache of 2,000 pills and four guns, including two AR-15 rifles, authorities said. Two brothers who live at the home were jailed.
Khamsana Jimmy Phimmasone, 35, who is already on probation for a previous narcotics conviction, was booked on suspicion of being a convicted felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records.
His brother, 34-year-old Donny Phimmasone, was booked on suspicion of possession of drugs for sales.
Deputies visited the home in the 3700 block of Strang Avenue to ensure Khamsana Phimmasone was abiding by the terms of his probation, Sgt. Tony Duong of the sheriff’s Temple City Station said. His younger brother also lives at the home.
“The search resulted in the discovery of narcotics and several firearms including, two AR-15 rifles, a shotgun, a handgun, ammunition and approximately 2000 pills of a controlled substance,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Several varieties of pills were found, Duong said. They were sent to the sheriff’s crime lab for analysis to determine what exactly they contain.
Khamsana was immediately sentenced to a 10-day “flash incarceration” following his arrest on Tuesday, which is generally used for felons being supervised under the terms of AB 109 probation. Police officials could not confirm whether he was on AB 109 “post-release community supervision.”
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court records, his past convictions include: possession of restricted or dangerous drugs in 2004; auto theft and recklessly evading police in 2002; as well as possession of methamphetamine, auto theft and burglary in 2001.
According to county booking records, Khamsana Phimmasone was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail, while Donny Phimmasone was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail. Both were scheduled to appear in the El Monte branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
ALTADENA >> A man suffered burns to 40 percent of his body after an explosion and fire at an Altadena home being used to extract concentrated hash oil from marijuana, authorities said.
Deputies were first summoned to the 1800 block of E. Midwick Drive about 4:10 p.m. by reports of a person heard screaming, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“When they arrived they saw a male adult badly burned and flames coming from the rear of a house,” according to the statement.
After Los Angeles County firefighters extinguished the fire and treated the victim, deputies discovered a large number of “containers and equipment” which they recognized as part of a manufacturing lab used to extract THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, from plants, authorities said. “Several windows of the house were blown out, possibly from an explosion.”
The process to extract concentrated THC oil, also known as “honey oil,” from marijuana plants often involves highly flammable liquids.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department hazardous materials team, sheriff’s narcotics detectives and U.S. Department of Justice officials investigated and decontaminated the scene in a process that lasted through 6 a.m. Saturday morning, officials said.
The badly burned man was taken to a hospital with severe burns covering about 40 percent of his body.
The man, whose name was not available, may face several criminal charges in connection with the alleged honey oil lab.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department