Minivan smashes through La Puente juice shop

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LA PUENTE >> A minivan smashed through the front door of a La Puente juice shop on Thursday, causing significant damage but resulting in no injuries, authorities said.
The incident took place about 2 p.m. at Rio’s Water & Juice, 16012 Main Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said.
A woman in her 30’s was parking when her Toyota Sienna minivan lurched forward, through the plate glass windows of the business, he said.
“It appears that she inadvertently accelerated instead of stepping on the break and drove through the front windows,” Cacheiro said.
The driver was unhurt, he said. An employee was inside the store at the time, but was standing toward the back of the business and also suffered no injuries.
It did not initially appear the building had sustained structural damage, however a city engineer was summoned to inspect it, the lieutenant said.
Officials initially estimated the dollar-value of the damage at $40,000.

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PHOTOS: (Courtesy)

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Man sentenced for 2006 La Puente ‘execution’ of Valinda man who failed to pay ‘taxes’ to Mexican Mafia


LOS ANGELES >> A former gang member from Baldwin Park received a 24-year prison sentence this week for his role in a federal drug trafficking conspiracy in which he admitted personally executing another gang member from Valinda who failed to pay “taxes,” or extortion payments, to the Mexican Mafia, authorities announced Thursday.
Eddie “Criminal” Garcia, a former 18th Street gang member with ties to Baldwin Park and El Sereno, pleaded guilty last year in federal court in Los Angeles to a charge of participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine as part of a federal case targeting the Mexican Mafia-controlled Puente 13 street gang.
As part of his plea agreement, Garcia admitted to luring and fatally shooting David Dragna, 44, of Valinda at an apartment complex in the 14700 block of Prichard Street in La Puente on July 3, 2006, U.S. Department of Justice Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“Garcia admitted that in 2006 he and two members of Puente 13 lured another gang member to an apartment complex, where Garcia executed the victim with a bullet to the head,” Mrozek said.
Garcia carried out the killing on the orders of leaders of Puente 13, who accused Dragna of keeping extortion payments on drug proceeds, or “taxes,” intended for the Mexican Mafia, officials said. Dragna was a member of the Townsmen gang, which also operates in the Valinda Corridor in the central Can Gabriel Valley.
“This defendant killed another human being in cold blood to further his own criminal credentials and to further his drug trafficking career,” U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen M. Decker said. “While he may have believed he could get away with murder, the hard work and dedication of law enforcement and prosecutors in my office ensured that he was held accountable. This case is a stark reminder of the devastating impact of gang violence on our community and the severe consequences that will result from participating in those criminal enterprises.”
At the time of Garcia’s plea deal, the prosecution and defense in the case agreed to recommend Garcia be sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald opted for the high end of the range, sentencing Garcia on Monday to 24 years behind bars, as well as eight years of supervised release upon the completion of his prison term.
The two Puente 13 gang members who joined Garcia in the killing have since pleaded guilty to the slaying, Mrozek said. Angel “Smiley” Torres is serving a 15-and-a-half-year prison term, and Steven “Flaco” Nunez is serving a 10-year sentence.
As part of the same investigation into Puente 13, which began in 2008, longtime gang leader Rafael “Cisco” Munoz-Gonzalez, 42, of La Puente and his brother, Cesar “Blanco” Munoz-Gonazalez of Rowland Heights, received life sentenced in federal prison in 2013 after being convicted at trial of violating the Racketeer Influence Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering, engaging in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, weapons charges and other offenses.
The investigation into Puente 13 has resulted in four indictments and the convictions of about five-dozen gang members and associates, officials said.

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UPDATED: Body of missing hiker from La Puente discovered near Hermit Falls in Angeles National Forest

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ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> The search for a La Puente man who disappeared during a hiking trip in the Angeles National Forest north of Sierra Madre came to a tragic end Saturday when officials discovered the man’s body near the base of Hermit Falls, authorities said.
Avid outdoorsman John Richard King, 63, left his home in La Puente on Thursday morning and never returned, according to Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
His family reported him missing after he failed to return home Thursday night, as planned, officials said.
King’s car was found in the parking area of Chantry Flat, and sheriff’s search and rescue team members launched a search of the area that continued all day Friday.
The searchers discovered King’s body near the base of Hermit Falls about noon, Sgt. Alan Lie of the sheriff’s Temple Station said.
Homicide detectives and coroner’s officials were summoned to the scene to continue the investigation.
“Detectives report his body was found in the water below Hermit Falls by the Antelope Valley Search and Rescue Team,” according to Deputy Ruan Rouzan of the sheriff’s information Bureau. “It appears Mr. King, while hiking, slipped and fell approximately 40 feet into the water.”
“There appears to be no foul play, and the fall was accidental,” Rouzan said. “Mr. King’s family arrived on scene to positively identify his body.”
No further details were available.

PHOTO of John King, 63, of La Puente (courtesy)

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La Puente man vanishes during hiking trip in Angeles National Forest north of Sierra Madre

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ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Rescuers continued searching the Angeles National Forest north of Sierra Madre on Friday for a 63-year-old La Puente man who went hiking Thursday and never returned, authorities said.
John Richard King was last seen about 10:30 a.m. on Thursday as he left his home in La Puente to go hiking in the Chantry Flat area of the forest, Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
King was expected to return home by 10:30 p.m. but never arrived, Deputy Oscar Cantu of the sheriff’s Temple Station said. A worried relative reported him missing.
“The missing person’s vehicle was located in the parking area of Chantry Flat,” Saldana said. “He is an avid hiker and his family is very concerned for his wellbeing.”
Sheriff’s search and rescue teams from Sierra Madre, Malibu, Montrose and San Dimas, assisted by a helicopter, went in search of the missing hiker Thursday night. The search was halted overnight and resumed Friday morning.
King is described as white, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 220 pounds, with short gray hair, brown eyes and a gray beard.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau’s Missing Persons Detail at 323-890-5500.

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La Puente gang injunction meeting cancelled

LA PUENTE >> A meeting previously planned by sheriff’s officials are to discuss La Puente’s gang injunction later this month has been cancelled.
The meeting, which has been scheduled for Oct. 25 at the St. Louis of France Catholic Church, 13935 E. Temple Ave., will be rescheduled for sometime early next year, organizers said.
At the annual meetings, sheriff’s officials, prosecutors and crime analysts meet with the community to discuss and answer questions regardingLa Puente’s gang injunction.
In addition to La Puente, the injunction against the Puente 13 and Bassett Grande street gangs also covers portions of West Covina and nearby unincorporated county areas such as Valinda and Bassett.

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La Puente man arrested following gas station robbery


LA PUENTE >> Deputies arrested a suspect minutes after a robbery at a La Puente gas station on Saturday, authorities said.
Rogelio Diaz, 22, of La Puente was booked on suspicion of robbery following the 10:55 a.m. heist at a Chevron station, 777 Glendora Ave., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Arthur Scott said.
He wore a bandana over his face when he entered the gas station and demanded money from a female employee, the lieutenant said. The suspect, later identified as Diaz, kept his right hand covered with another bandana and gestures as if he had a handgun concealed beneath it. It was later determined he had no gun.
The frightened attendant handed over about $480 from the cash register and the suspect ran off. He was last seen running south along Glendora Avenue.
Deputies responding to the reported robbery spotted Diaz nearby and detained him in the area of Temple Avenue and Gaylawn Court, Scott said.
He was arrested once the victim identified him as the robber, he said. Deputies found Diaz to be in possession of two bandanas, as well as a little more than $480 in cash.
According to county booking records, Diaz was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in the El Monte branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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Suspected gang member with gun jailed following chase through La Puente in stolen car

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LA PUENTE >> Deputies arrested a suspected gang member with a handgun following a pursuit through La Puente in a stolen car on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
A deputy patrolling in the area of Valley Boulevard and Ferrero Lane spotted a Toyota Camry which had been reported stolen in Baldwin Park earlier this month driving down the road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said.
The driver refused to pull over, initiating a short chase along surface streets that ended when the driver abandoned the car and ran on nearby Wegman Drive, the lieutenant said.
Deputies nabbed the suspect as he fled through a residential neighborhood, he added. He was arrested without further struggle.
Retracing the suspect steps, deputies found a handgun, as well as a shirt and baseball cap the fleeing suspect had apparently discarded in an attempt to change his appearance, Cacheiro said.
The identity of the suspect, a man estimated to be in his early-30s, was not released Thursday as detectives continued their investigation into the man, he added. The suspect was believed to have gang ties.

PHOTO – courtesy

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Man wounded in stabbing at La Puente house party

LA PUENTE >> A fight at a La Puente house party escalated into a stabbing Saturday night, leaving one man wounded but expected to survive, authorities said.
The stabbing unfolded about 11 p.m. in the 15200 block of Flagstaff Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. William Kitchin said.
Two men got into a fight at a house party before the altercation ended up moving to the street, the sergeant said.
The attacker pulled a knife and stabbed the victim before fleeing the scene, he said. The wounded man, who was in his mid-20s, was hospitalized in stable condition.
Kitchin described as a Latino man in his 20s, bearded, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing 250 pounds.
Investigators suspected the stabbing may have been gang-related, added.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Industry Station at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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La Puente Business Watch Program meeting planned Thursday


LA PUENTE >> Sheriff’s officials are inviting La Puente business owners to join in a meeting of the La Puente Business Watch Program next week.
The program in run by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department La Puente Special Assignment Team, operating out of the sheriff’s Industry Station, officials said in a written statement. It scheduled for 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Starbucks, 1283. N. Hacienda Blvd.
“The goals are to link business owners via the Le Puente Business Watch program in taking systematic steps to reduce opportunities for crimes in and around business locations,” according to the statement. “It includes training business personnel to be the eyes and ears of the law enforcement.”
Topics to be covered will include reporting crime, marking equipment with identifying marks, robbery prevention, burglary preventions and self protection.
Those interested are asked to RSVP with Deputy Rudy Zamora at 626-934-3061.

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Man wounded in La Puente car-to-car shooting


LA PUENTE >> A car-to-car shooting in La Puente left a man wounded late Thursday, officials said.
The gunfire erupted about 10:40 p.m. in a residential neighborhood in the 16900 block of Turk Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Infante said.
A shooter or shooters in a car opened fire on the victim, a man in his late teens, as he was driving in his own car, the lieutenant said.
The victim’s car was struck six times, and one bullet struck the man in the shoulder, he said.
No further details of the shooting, including a suspect description, were available, Infante said.
The wounded man did not appear to be cooperating with investigators, he said.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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