Police: Burglary leads to discovery of 1,500 marijuana plants in El Monte warehouse


EL MONTE >> An alleged burglary at an El Monte warehouse Friday afternoon led police to discover more than 1,500 marijuana plants and nearly 250 pounds of processed pot inside, officials said.
Police received a report about 2:25 p.m. that two burglars had broken into a warehouse at 2646 Strozier Avenue through a glass door, according to El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna.
Officer soon found and detained 43-year-old Gale Berry of El Monte at the scene, he said. Officers searched the warehouse but did not find the second reported intruder.
EMPOT3“Further investigation determined that the burglarized property had been converted into an illegal marijuana cultivation operation,” Luna said in a written statement.
Detectives obtained a search warrant and ultimately seized more than 1,500 marijuana plants, “in various stages of growth,” along with 247 pounds of harvested pot, Luna said.
Berry was booked on suspicion of burglary, possession of burglary tools and possession of a controlled substance.
“It was determined that 2646 Strozier had been sub-let, and the responsible party is still to be determined,” Luna said.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Berry was being held in lieu of $105,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
Anyone with information is asked to contact El Monte police at 626-580-2114, or via email at tips@empd.org.

SCENE PHTOO/BOOKING PHOTO of Gale Berry, 43, of El Monte courtesy of the El Monte Police Department

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39 distracted drivers cited during El Monte crackdown


EL MONTE >> Police issued more than three-dozen tickets to distracted drivers in El Monte Thursday during an extra enforcement campaign to coincide with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, authorities said.
Officers stopped 45 vehicles during the day-long, city-wide campaign, ultimately citing 36 driver, primarily for using cell phones while driving, El Monte police Sgt. Jimmie Pitts said.
One driver stopped as part of the campaign ended up being arrested due to an outstanding warrant, the sergeant said.
Police plan to hold another distracted driving crackdown Monday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., he said.
Funding is being provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

PHOTO: Through both sunshine and rain, El Monte Police Officer Andrew Avila urges motorist to avoid distracting driving during an extra enforcement campaign to coincide with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month along Ramona Boulevard in El Monte on Thursday, April 7, 2016. (Courtesy, El Monte Police Department)

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Arroyo High School class ring found, returned to owner 29 years after it went missing


EL MONTE >> Police and school officials in El Monte teamed up to return a lost class ring Wednesday to a 1985 Arroyo High School graduate who lost it 29 years ago, authorities said.
Custodian Beto Gonzalez was working at Arroyo High School, 4921 Cedar Ave., when found the ring on campus and turned it over to his wife, El Monte High School Counselor Carol Gonzalez, El Monte police Capt. David Vautrin said in a written statement.
“Carol realized the ring could possibly be reunited with its owner,” he said. She gave it to El Monte High School Resource Officer Joe Garcia.
0407_NWS_SGT-L-RING3“The ring had some identifying features which enabled Officer Garcia to locate the owner Richard Mason who had attended Arroyo High School,” Vautrin said. “Garcia confirmed Mason attended Arroyo and graduated in 1985. Officer Garcia worked with the staff of the El Monte High School District and was able to locate Mason, who now lives in the city of Azusa with his family.”
Mason told police he last saw the ring in 1987, after giving it to his then-girlfriend, the captain said. After the couple parted ways, he never saw the ring again.
“He was very happy to get his ring back and thanked Officer Garcia and the entire El Monte Police Department for getting his ring back to him,” Vautrin said.


PHOTOS courtesy of the El Monte Police Department.

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Police: Teens hurt while trying to stop fellow teen from taking mother’s car in El Monte

EL MONTE >> Two teen suffered injuries when they tried to stop another teen, 14, from taking his mother’s car in El Monte early Sunday, police said.
The incident unfolded about 2:15 a.m. when the 14-year-old boy got into his mother’s car at a home in the 2600 block of Lexington Avenue and began to drive away, El Monte police Sgt. Jimmie Pitts said.
“His 15-year-old sister and 16-year-old friend attempted to stop him, because they believed he was intoxicated,” the sergeant said.
The teenage girl and boy suffered “minor to moderate” injuries when they fell from the car, Pitts said. They were not run over.
Paramedics took the injured teens to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, he said.
Officers detained the 14-year-old driver and found no evidence he was intoxicated, Pitts said. He was not arrested as police continued their investigation.
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services was also notified of the incident.

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Two Pasadena burglary suspects jailed after pursuit ending in El Monte; gun recovered

PASADENA >> Police arrested two burglary suspects with a freshly stolen handgun after a car chase that ended with a crash in El Monte Tuesday afternoon, police said.
Timothy Dwayne Johnson, 29, of Compton and Dale Terrelle Cross, 25, of Los Angeles were booked on suspicion of burglary and evading police following their arrests Tuesday afternoon, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The incident began shortly after 12:30 p.m. when a witness called police to report seeing two men break into a home in the 3700 block of Mayfair Drive, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
Arriving officers spotted the two alleged burglars leaving the area in a car driven by a third suspect, the lieutenant said.
The fleeing car led police on a pursuit for more than 8 miles before it crashed at Bryant Road and Whistler Avenue in El Monte, according to Pasadena and El Monte police officials.
All three suspects ran from the car, Luna said.
Officers searched the area and found two of the suspects, later identified as Johnson and Cross. One of them was apprehended with the help of a police dog and suffered dog bite injuries during his arrest.
Among the allegedly stolen items recovered from the suspects was a firearm, Luna said.
According to county booking records, Johnson was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, while Cross was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

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48 cited in El Monte pedestrian and bicycle safety crackdown

EL MONTE >> Police issued 48 tickets and arrested one drunken driver Saturday during an extra enforcement campaign aimed at pedestrian and bicycle safety in El Monte, officials said.
Traffic officers focused extra attention between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on spots throughout the city that tend to have higher numbers of accidents involving pedestrians and bicycles, El Monte police Sgt. Jimmie Pitts said.
Saturday’s efforts focused primarily on the pedestrian and cyclists themselves, he explained. Other similar extra enforcement campaigns primarily target drivers that commit traffic violations that place pedestrians and cyclists in jeopardy.
Police wrote 46 citations to pedestrians or cyclists for violations such as jaywalking or riding a bike on the wrong side of the road, Pitts said.
Two drivers were cited, and one of them was ultimately jailed on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, the sergeant said.
Funding for the campaign was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Man sought in robbery, attempted robbery at El Monte markets

EL MONTE >> A knife-wielding man tried, but failed, to rob one El Monte market Thursday before successfully robbing a second store 10 minutes later, police said.
The first crime took place about 1:10 p.m. at Superior Grocers, 10683 Valley Blvd., El Monte police Lt. Ben Lowey said.
The robber brandished a knife as he tried to hold up the store but ultimately fled empty-handed, the lieutenant said.
About 10 minutes later, a second crime was reported about two miles away at a Circle K, 12004 Ramona Blvd., Lowry said. In that case, the robber obtained an unknown amount of cash.
In both incidents, the robber was described as a man wearing a black hat and a bandana covering his face, driving a gray minivan, Lowry said.
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information can reach El Monte police at 626-580-2100. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Man sought after groping 10-year-old girl on way to school in El Monte


EL MONTE >> Police are seeking an unidentified man who grabbed and groped a 10-year-old girl as she was walking to school Friday morning.
The girl was walking to school about 7:15 a.m. when she encountered the man at Tyler Avenue and Dodson Street, El Monte police Sgt. Roger Cobian said in a written statement.
“The male suspect approached the girl who was alone and engaged her in conversation speaking only Spanish,” Cobian said. The girl walked away from him.
“The suspect came up behind the girl and hugged her while fondling her breast area over her clothing,” the sergeant said. “A school bus arrived scaring the suspect off.”
The attacker got into a silver, four-door compact car — possible a Toyota Corolla — and drove off, police said.
He was described as a Latino man, between 50 and 60 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall, of medium build, with salt-and-pepper hair an facial pock marks, officials said. He wore a black hooded sweatshirt.
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sketch artist created a composite sketch of the molester, “with the brave victim’s help,” Cobian said.
Police are in contact with area schools, and have beefed up patrols around area campuses, Cobian said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact El Monte police at 626-580-2114, or email tips@empd.org. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Young El Monte man and woman killed in Boyle Heights car-to-car attack


BOYLE HEIGHTS >> Coroner’s officials have identified a young man and woman from El Monte who died Sunday after a gunman opened fire on the car in Boyle Heights, sending it careening into a house.
Henry Sanchez, 19, and Maria Cordova, 18, died following Sunday’s 11 a.m. attack at Enchandia Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said. Coroner’s officials could not confirm reports that the woman was pregnant.
Sanchez was at the wheel of a white sedan with Cordova and another man riding as passengers when two attackers approached in a mid-size, black SUV, Los Angeles Police Department officials said in a written statement.
At least one of the attackers opened fire as the sedan was stopped at a red light, striking Sanchez, officials said.
“Upon being shot, (Sanchez) lost control of his vehicle and collided into a residential home near the intersection of Enchandia Street and Pleasant Avenue,” according to the LAPD statement.
Sanchez was taken to a hospital where he died from his injuries, Smith said. Investigators determined Sanchez died from multiple gunshots wounds and ruled the death a homicide.
Cordova was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting and crash, officials said. An autopsy revealed she died as a result of blunt force trauma, and her death was also ruled a homicide.
The third passenger in the sedan was not seriously hurt, and no one at the home the car crashed into was hurt.
Police described one of the killers as a Latino man between 5 feet 9 inches and 6 feet tall, wearing dark clothing. The second killer was described only as male.
“The investigation reveals that the shooting is possibly gang-related,” according to the statement.
Anyone with information is asked to contact LAPD Hollenbeck Homicide detectives at 323-342-8964. During weekends or non-business hours, calls may be placed to 877-527-3247. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.


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Temple City man found dead along 10 Freeway in El Monte identified

EL MONTE >> Authorities have released the name of a man found dead in some bushes along a freeway offramp in El Monte on Friday.
Samuel Arteche Jr., 45, was pronounced dead about 12:15 p.m. Friday after he was found unresponsive near the Santa Anita offramp of the eastbound 10 Freeway, Lt. David Smith of the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said. He was listed as a Temple City resident.
A transient approached a Freeway Services Patrol worker and said he believed his friend had died, CHP Sgt. Mike Maehr said.
El Monte police took over the investigation and noted no overt signs of foul play, El Monte police Lt. Ben Lowry said.
An autopsy had not yet been performed Sunday.

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