A Baldwin Park man Wednesday admitted participating in a San Gabriel Valley-based drug distribution conspiracy Wednesday and admitted fatally shooting a man in La Puente in 2006, federal officials said.
Eddie “Criminal” Garcia, 39, faces up to 30 years in federal prison when he returns to court in Los Angeles for sentencing Jan. 25, U.S. Assistant Attorney Mack Jenkins said. But under the plea deal, the prosecution and defense agreed to recommend a prison term of 18 to 24 years to the presiding judge.
Garcia pleaded guilty to participating in a drug distribution conspiracy which included murder, Jenkins explained.
The charge stems from a 2010 investigation targeting the Puente 13 street gang’s drug activities in the San Gabriel Valley, officials said.
“In addition to participating in drug trafficking activities that include collecting ‘taxes’ or ‘rent’ on behalf of the Mexican Mafia member who controlled Puente 13, Garcia admitted that he murdered another gang member who failed to… make those extortion payments,” U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
Garcia and two other gang members who have since been convicted in connection with the slaying shot and killed 44-year-old David Dragna of East Valinda after luring him to an apartment complex in the 14700 block of Pritchard Street in La Puente on July 3, 2006, according to DOJ and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
Officials described Garcia as a former member of the 18th Street gang, while Dragna was part of the Townsmen gang.
The 18th Street gang, Townsmen and Puente 13 all operate under the leadership of the Mexican Mafia, Jenkins said.
As part of the same investigation that led to Garcia’s conviction, the then-leader of the Puente 13 gang and his brother were sentenced to life in federal prison in 2013.
The investigation was a joint effort by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
COVINA >> Police jailed a gang member after finding him carrying a loaded handgun and 16 grams of methamphetamine at a Covina bowling alley Friday night, officials said.
A reported argument between rival gang members about 7:20 p.m. first drew police to the Brunswick Covina Bowl, 1060 W. San Bernardino Road, Covina police Sgt. Tony Zavala said.
Gabriel Christian Reed, a 24-year-old documented gang member from West Covina, began walking away when officers arrived but was quickly detained, he said.
“He had a loaded 9mm (handgun) in his pocket, along with 16 grams of methamphetamine,” Zavala said.
Reed was booked on suspicion of being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun, possession of methamphetamine for sales and possession of a firearm with narcotics, the sergeant said.
Reed crossed paths with authorities less than two months ago when he was the victim of a shooting in an unincorporated county area near West Covina, officials said.
He suffered a gunshot wound to his back about 3:20 p.m. June 10 in the 4000 block of Frijo Avenue, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards. Few details were available, as the victim did not appear to be cooperating with investigators.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Covina Police Department.
LOS ANGELES >> A Hacienda Heights man accused of laundering drug money through nightclubs he owns in Pico Rivera and Moreno Valley has agreed to plead guilty to a charge that could send him to prison for 25 years, according to authorities and court documents.
Edgar De Dios Fragoso, 38, has agreed to enter a guilty to a single federal charge of money laundering, according to a plea agreement filed Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles.
Under the plea arrangement, six additional counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy are to be dismissed, according to the document.
Fragoso pleaded not guilty to the eight-count federal indictment in March.
A hearing at which Fragoso will formally change his plea was yet to be scheduled, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
Fragoso is expected to receive a sentence of 25 years in federal prison, court records show.
He also agreed to forfeit his liquor license, Mrozek said.
“This brings some amount of closure to the case,” he said.
Prosecutors allege Fragoso laundered more than $35,000 in U.S. proceeds from methamphetamine sales on behalf of a drug dealer operating out of Mexico, and also collected $200,000 in payments from undercover federal agents posing as representatives of a drug-trafficking organization, according to the indictment.
Fragoso, who was arrested Feb. 23, is free on a $100,000 bond.
SOUTH PASADENA >> Three South Pasadena residents helped police capture a man police said stole a bicycle and tried to steal a delivery van early Saturday, police said.
Edwin Lopez, 32, of Los Angeles was arrested on suspicion of residential burglary, attempted auto theft, possession of burglary tools and possession of drug paraphernalia, South Pasadena police Cpl. Craig Phillips said. It was Lopez’s fourth arrest over the past month, according to county booking records.
The incident began about 8 a.m. when a resident of the 1000 block of Magnolia Street spotted a burglar leaving an underground parking structure of a condominium complex with a neighbor’s bicycle, the corporal said.
The witness told the bike owner of the theft and ran after the thief, Phillips said. The owner and the witnesses’ wife jumped into a car and followed.
Phillips said the three caught up with the fleeing bike burglar in the 100 block of Pasadena Avenue. After grappling with the suspect and briefly holding him for police, Lopez ultimately broke free of his captors and ran, leaving behind the bicycle and his backpack.
Lopez then jumped into an Amazon delivery van, which had the keys in the ignition, and started the car before realizing he was not alone, Phillips said. The 17-year-old daughter of the delivery driver, who was sitting in the passenger seat, screamed, and Lopez jumped out of the van and continued fleeing on foot.
Police arrived within a minute and captured Lopez without a struggle, Philliips said.
The backpack Lopez dropped contained burglary tools and a methamphetamine pipe, Phillips added.
No injuries were reported to either the suspect, victim or the good Samaritans.
Lopez has already been arrested twice this month by South Pasadena police on suspicion of theft- and drug-related crimes, Phillips said.
He was also arrested by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Transit Services Bureau deputies Aug. 16, records show.
Lopez was being held in lieu of $50,00 bail at the Pasadena Police Department jail pending his initial court appearance, records show.
POMONA >> Two young women died of suspected drug overdoses after attending the Hard Summer Festival in Pomona Saturday night, authorities said.
The women, both 19, died after being hospitalized for reported drug overdoses in separate incidents during the first day of the two-day electronic musical at the Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said.
The identities of the women were not released.
MONTEBELLO >> Police who stopped a car for speeding in Montebello on Monday ended up seizing two assault weapons, two pistols, more than 10 pounds of drugs and about $20,000 in cash, police said.
Ramon Alberto Enciso, 45, of Montebello, and girlfriend Wendy Peralta, 35, of La Habra, were arrested in the traffic stop turned drug bust about 1 a.m. in the 400 block of North Wilcox Avenue, according to Montebello police and Los Angeles County booking records.
“A Montebello Police Officer conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle that was speeding through a residential neighborhood in Montebello,” police said in a written statement. “Upon contacting the driver, the officer observed a rifle next to the driver’s leg.”
Police ordered the couple out of the car and discovered a TEC-9-style machine pistol beneath Enciso’s seat, a loaded .40-caliber Glock pistol in Encino’s waistband and another loaded .380-caliber pistol was found in the panel of the driver-side door, police said. The AR-15-style rifle that first caught officers’ attention was fitted with a loaded, 30-round magazine.
“Also located inside the vehicle was approximately 10 pounds of methamphetamine, 45 grams of heroin, 31 grams of cocaine, 14 grams of marijuana and approximately $20,000 in U.S. currency,” the statement said.
Enciso was scheduled to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday afternoon to answer to 16 drug- and weapon-related charges, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said. His arraignment was postponed to Thursday.
Encino, a gang member who is on probation under AB 109 guidelines due to a previous conviction, was being held in lieu of $500,000 bail, according to police and records. Peralta posted $105,000 bond the day of her arrest and was released from custody pending her initial court appearance.
Enciso has a criminal record dating back to 1992, Los Angeles County Superior Court records show.
He’s been convicted three times for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, three times for drug possession, twice possession of drugs for sales, once for transportation of drugs, once for being a felon in possession of ammunition, twice for domestic abuse and once for battery, records show. And at the time of his arrest Monday, Enciso already had a case pending against him for allegations of shooting at an inhabited building or vehicle, being a felon in possession of a gun and drug possession, records show.
PHOTOS of seized drugs and guns (above) and suspects Ramon Enciso and Wendy Peralta (below) courtesy of the Montebello Police Department.
PASADENA >> Police used a Taser to subdue and arrest a Pasadena man for possession of PCP for sales Friday afternoon in a Pasadena park, officials said.
Oscar Brown, 40, was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail Saturday pending his initial court appearance, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
Police first approached him after spotting him about 5 p.m., drinking from a 40-ounce bottle of beer in La Pintoresca Park, at Washington Boulevard and Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said. Brown ran from the officers.
“As he ran, he held his waistband the entire time, leading officers to believe he had a weapon in his waistband,” Mercado said. Officers used a Taser to subdue Brown.
Police then found a vial of the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his waistband, Mercado said.
Brown was examined at a hospital before being booked into jail, he said.
CITY OF INDUSTRY >> Deputies arrested two men and seized 950 marijuana plants from a City of Industry warehouse Wednesday, sheriff’s officials said. It was the third large indoor marijuana grow uprooted in the area in two months.
Investigators responding to an anonymous tip served a search warrant at a warehouse in the 1300 block of Darius Court, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Gannon.
“During the search warrant, hundreds of marijuana plants in various stages of growth — estimated street value worth over $3 million — and hydroponic equipment were recovered,” Gannon said. “The hydroponic equipment was used to cultivate the plants inside an otherwise nondescript local business (and) warehouse.”
The majority of the plants were mature and nearly ready to be harvested, officials said.
Arrested were David Nguyen, 32, and Phuong Nguyen, 54, according to sheriff’s officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The suspects told investigators they were not related, Gannon said. David Nguyen said he was from Pennsylvania, and Phuong Nguyen said she was from Canada.
Both posted $50,000 bail and were released from custody Thursday pending their court appearances, records show.
Wednesday’s bust was the third large-scale marijuana grow eradicated by sheriff’s deputies since May.
Sheriff’s Industry Station deputies teamed with U.S. Marshals June 6 to seize an estimated $1.5 million worth of pot from an area house and arrest three suspects, Gannon said. Further details regarding the June operation were not available Wednesday.
Local deputies seized about $1.2 worth of marijuana found growing May 12 inside a warehouse in the 18000 block of Railroad Court, Lt. Arthur Scott said at the time. One suspect was arrested at the indoor grow site.
Anyone with information is asked to contact she sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322.
ALHAMBRA >> Officials responding to a report of a man passed out in a car in front of a convenience store early Wednesday ended up discovering a large amount of drugs, cash and a handgun in his car, officials said.
Police ultimately jailed Eric Lin, 22, of Los Angeles, on suspicion of possession of drugs for sales after taking him to a hospital for medical examination, Alhambra police Lt. Gabriel Ponce said.
Paramedics first found Lin just before 8 a.m., unconscious behind the wheel of a running Volvo parked in front of 7-Eleven, 601 S. Fremont Ave., the lieutenant said.
While removing him from the car to treat him for an apparent medical emergency, paramedics summoned police after finding a bag of powdered Ecstasy, also known as Molly, in the car, Ponce said. Police also found $1,700 in $100 bills in the car, as well as a handgun locked in the car’s trunk.
After being checked out at a hospital, Lin was booked into the Alhambra Police Department jail shortly after 3 p.m., according to Los Angeles County booking records. He was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in Alhambra Superior Court.
COVINA >> A woman suffered burns and a man was being sought after an apparent mishap stemming from a hash oil lab in an unincorporated county area near Covina Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
The incident was firs reported about 1:45 p.m. as a possible assault after the woman showed up at a hospital with second-and third-degree burns on one of her arms, Sgt. F. Maldonado of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s San Dimas Station said. The injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
Deputies determined the woman had suffered burns in some sort of mishap at a small-scale lab used to concentrate marijuana into hash oil, or “honey oil,” on Calora Street near Grand Avenue, the sergeant said.
The injured woman’s boyfriend, who was also believed to have been present at the hash oil lab, had left the home and remained unaccounted for Wednesday afternoon, Maldonado said.
Firefighters responded to the home but found no fire or smoldering, he added.
The incident took place one day after Glendora police arrested a man and dismantled another alleged hash oil lab in the 1200 block of East Elgenia Avenue in West Covina, officials said.