Checkpoints net more than 100 arrests throughout the San Gabriel Valley

Checkpoints held throughout the San Gabriel Valley over the weekend resulted in more than 100 arrests, most of which were for driving without a license, officials said Sunday.
A six-hour checkpoint in La Puente late Friday and early Saturday resulted in two DUI arrests, along with 55 arrests of unlicensed drivers and 22 arrests for other alleged crimes, authorities said.
The checkpoint, run by deputies from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Industry Station, took place from 7 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday on Hacienda Boulevard at Temple Avenue, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. It was one of several checkpoints held throughout the San Gabriel Valley over the weekend by area law enforcement agencies from La Verne to Pasadena.
Of the 2,271 cars that passed through the overnight checkpoint, deputies screened 1,673 drivers, officials said.
Two drivers were arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and two people were arrested on suspicion of drug possession, according to the sheriff’s department statement. One person was jailed on suspicion of knowingly allowing an unlicensed person to drive and one driver was accused of driving without a court-ordered ignition interlock device.
One person was jailed on an outstanding traffic warrant, officials said. And 17 drivers were arrested for driving on a suspended or revoked license.
But the vast majority of the 79 arrests, 55 of them, were of unlicensed drivers, officials said.
Eleven cars were impounded for 30 days at the checkpoint, while 15 were impounded for one day and 48 were released at the checkpoint.
Similar results were seen during the sheriff’s Industry Station’s last checkpoint, which was also held in La Puente overnight Dec. 21 and 22.
More than 70 people were arrested at the December checkpoint, which took place on Hacienda Boulevard at Nelson Avenue, sheriff’s officials said at the time. One driver was accused of driving under the influence of methamphetamine; one person was jailed for drug possession; one person was arrested on a parole violation, three people were arrested due to traffic warrants; two people were arrested for allowing an unlicensed person to drive, 14 people were jailed for driving on a suspended or revoked license; and 56 arrests of unlicensed drivers were made.
The dozens of arrests of unlicensed drivers at the December checkpoint, as well as dozens more at a checkpoint in Baldwin Park the following weekend, sparked outrage from family members of those arrested and immigrant rights activist who allege the checkpoints unfairly target undocumented immigrants.
But the sheriff’s department maintains the checkpoints are designed to improve public safety.
“Checkpoints are placed in locations that have the greatest opportunity for achieving drunk and drugged driving deterrence and provide the greatest safety to the public,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. But arresting intoxicated drivers is not the only goal.
“This DUI/Driver’s License checkpoint lowers DUI deaths and injuries. A major component of these checkpoints is the deterrent effects it has on those who might drive drunk or drugged.”
The La Puente checkpoint was one of several held over the weekend throughout the region. Arcadia, La Verne, and Pasadena also had overnight checkpoints. The California Highway Patrol also sent 20 extra officers out on a DUI saturation patrol late Saturday and early Sunday.
In Arcadia, police screened about 1,200 of the nearly 2,000 cars that passed through a checkpoint held from 9 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday along Baldwin Avenue at the Gate 8 entrance to Santa Anita Park and the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, Arcadia police Lt. Bob Anderson said.
“Fifteen (field sobriety tests) were given, resulting in five DUI arrests,” Anderson said. Two people were jailed on traffic warrants.
Police cited, but did not arrest, 16 unlicensed drivers and 7 people who were driving on a suspended or revoked licensed, Anderson said. One person was arrested on suspicion of being drunk in public.
Arcadia police impounded six cars for 30 days, and another six cars for 1 day, Anderson said.
Official results from Pasadena’s checkpoint, which took place late Friday and early Saturday at Fair Oaks Avenue and Hurlbut Street, were not available over the weekend, officials said. But electronic police logs indicated four suspected DUI drivers were arrested.
In La Verne, a checkpoint late Saturday and early Sunday netted 15 arrests, La Verne police Sgt. Monica Schusse said.
Two of the arrests were for intoxicated driving, while the other 13 resulted from other alleged crimes, the sergeant said. Further details regarding the arrests were not available Sunday.
The reasons for the difference in the ways in which police agencies deal with unlicensed drivers at checkpoints — whether such drivers are cited or arrested is not entirely clear.
Following protests in Baldwin Park in December and January, Baldwin Park police officials said unlicensed drivers were taken to jail because they did not have valid identification to prove their identities, as the Los Angeles Superior Court’s West Covina Branch, where the department files it’s cases, would no longer accept matricula consular cards as identification.
Court officials said no such policy change occurred.
Baldwin Park city officials subsequently announced police would resume accepting matricula consular cards as identification, and the city council discussed considering a moratorium on checkpoints. The city previously suspended checkpoints and changed its checkpoint impound policy in 2010 amid outcry from activists.
Funding for the checkpoints is provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Rowland Heights man charged with fatal stabbing of El Monte man in La Puente

A Rowland Heights man was charged Tuesday with fatally stabbing another man whose body was found behind a La Puente business.
The District Attorney’s Office filed one count of murder against 27-year-old Andres Aguirre Garcia, according to DA spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
She said the charge comes with the allegation that the suspect personally used a knife to commit the crime.
Garcia’s arraignment was continued to March 11 at Pomona Superior Court.
The victim, 28-year-old Jose Chacon of El Monte, was found lying in a parking lot behind a business in the 15900 block of Old Valley Road in La Puente about 2:45 a.m. Feb. 12. He sustained multiple stab wounds to his upper body and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Lt. Steve Jauch of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said Garcia and Chacon were acquaintances. The two had a disagreement which resulted in the stabbing, he said.
But Jauch didn’t say what the disagreement was about or what led deputies to Garcia on Feb. 14. He was arrested that night.
“He confessed and he produced the knife,” Jauch said.
Booking records show Garcia is being held at Men’s Central Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

- Ruby Gonzales

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UPDATED: Checkpoints planned this weekend in La Puente, La Verne, Monterey Park, Arcadia

Officials in La Puente, La Verne, Monterey Park and Arcadia are planning to screen drivers for sobriety and valid licenses at checkpoints this weekend.
Deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Industry Station will hold a checkpoint from 7 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within La Puente, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
More than 70 people were arrested during the city’s last checkpoint, which took place overnight Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 on Hacienda Boulevard, just north Nelson Avenue, officials said.
One of the arrests was for suspected driving under the influence of methamphetamine, sheriff’s officials said. Fifty-six drivers were arrested for driving without a valid license, while one person was jailed on a parole violation, three people were arrested due to outstanding traffic warrants and 14 people were arrested on suspicion of driving on a revoked or suspended license.
The La Puente City Council suspended checkpoints in the city in mid-2011 amid concerns that such checkpoints unfairly target local residence who are unlicensed or uninsured. But the council reversed it’s decision a year later.
Protestors demonstrated against Baldwin Park police in late December after a checkpoint overnight Dec. 28 and Dec. 29 at Los Angeles and Littlejohn streets, as well as Ramona Boulevard and Barnes Avenue, in that city resulted in the arrests of more than two-dozen unlicensed drivers, along with five allegedly intoxicated drivers and several other arrests.
Another checkpoint is scheduled to take place this weekend in La Verne, La Verne police officials said in a written statement.
The checkpoint will be held from 7 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday at an undisclosed location within the city, police said.
Monterey Park police are planning a checkpoint at a undisclosed location within that city from 7 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m., officials said, Sunday, and Arcadia police will hold a checkpoint late Saturday into early Sunday.
Funding for all the checkpoints is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Rowland Heights man accused of fatal La Puente stabbing

LA PUENTE — Detectives Sunday announced an arrest in connection with the slaying of an El Monte man who was found stabbed to death behind a La Puente business Wednesday.
Andres Aguirre Garcia, 27, of Rowland Heights was arrested late Friday on suspicion of murder in connection with the stabbing, which was discovered about 2:45 a.m. Wednesday in a parking lot behind a business in the 15900 block of Old Valley Road in La Puente, Lt. Steve Jauch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said in a written statement.
“Garcia has confessed to the crime and the murder weapon was recovered by homicide detectives,” Jauch said.
Lieutenant Pete Cacheiro of the sheriff’s Industry Station described the arrest was the result of, “a bunch of leads.”
“This was a collaboration of Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, the La Puente Special Assignment Team and the community,Cacheiro said.
No information regarding the motive in the alleged slaying was released.
Jose Chacon, 28, was discovered suffering from multiple stab wounds to his upper body in the parking lot to the rear of Alert Insulation Co. Inc., which is owned by La Puente Mayor Charlie Klinakis.
Earlier in the week, the mayor expressed sorrow over the slaying and said she did not know the victim.
Garcia was booked at the sheriff’s Industry Station’s jail, where he was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his scheduled arraignment Wednesday in El Monte Superior Court, according to county booking records.

- Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

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More than 70 arrested at La Puente checkpoint

LA PUENTE — Deputies arrested one person for intoxicated driving and 72 other for other suspected crimes during a checkpoint late Saturday and early Sunday, officials said.
The checkpoint was held from 7 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday on Hacienda Boulevard, just north of Nelson Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Of the 2,220 vehicle that passed through the checkpoint, 2,035 of the drivers were screened by deputies.
One driver was arrested for driving under the influence of methamphetamine during the checkpoint, according to the statement.
Additionally, one person was accused of drug possession; two people were arrested for knowingly allowing an unlicensed driver to drive; one person was arrested for a parole violation; three people were jailed on outstanding traffic warrants; 14 people were suspected of driving on a suspended or revoked license; and 56 people were accused of driving without a license, officials said.
Deputies released 45 vehicles to licensed drivers at the checkpoint, officials added. Eighteen cars were impounded for one day, and seven cars were impounded for 30 days.
Funding for the checkpoint was provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Sobriety checkpoints planned this weekend in La Verne, San Dimas, La Puente

Police officers and sheriff’s deputies will be screening drivers for sobriety and valid drivers’ licenses during three checkpoints planned this weekend in La Verne, San Dimas and La Puente.
The La Verne Police Department will hold a DUI/Drivers License checkpoint Friday.
The checkpoint will run From 6 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location in the city, police officials said in a written statement.
Also Friday, sheriff’s deputies will be holding a checkpoint from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. the following morning at an undisclosed location within San Dimas, authorities said.
And deputies from the sheriff’s Industry Station plan to hold a checkpoint from 7 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. the following morning within La Puente, officials added.
Funding for the operations is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Masked robbers steal bicycle at gunpoint in La Puente

LA PUENTE — Two masked robbers stole a man’s bicycle at gunpoint Thursday afternoon, officials said.
The victim, a 51-year-old local man, was riding his bike about 3:50 p.m. when he was approached by the robbers at the corner of Amar Road and Willow Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Gutierrez said.
One of the robbers brandished a handgun as they demanded the man’s red Kent beach cruiser-style bicycle, which he handed over, the sergeant said.
One of the robbers rode the man’s bicycle and the other was on foot as they fled west on Amar Road, Gutierrez added.
Deputies described one as a 5 feet 9 inches tall, of medium build, wearing a dark shirt and dark jeans and armed with a small, semi-automatic handgun. The second robber was between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall and wore a dark shirt and dark jeans. Both robbers wore ski masks.

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Four accused of helping El Monte rape suspect hide

Four people are accused of helping hide a gang member wanted for raping an El Monte convenience store employee.
El Monte Police Sgt. Roger Cobian said felony charges were filed Tuesday in El Monte Superior Court against Charlene Godinez, 39, of La Puente, John Godinez, 41, of La Puente, Lisa Beserra, 45, of El Monte and Mario Chavez, 43, Rowland Heights for allegedly assisting Joseph Amaya to evade capture and prosecution.
Booking records show the four suspects were arrested Saturday by El Monte police. Charlene and John Godinez are out on bond. Beserra is being held at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood on a $90,751 bail which includes bail for two other unrelated cases. The three have a Nov. 5 court date.
Chavez is in custody at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles and his bail is $50,000. His booking slip doesn’t show the date for his next court appearance.
Detectives may seek charges against others believed to have helped hide Amaya for the week following the Oct. 19 rape of a 19-year-old woman in El Monte, according to Cobian.
Prosecutors alleged Amaya was at the mini mart in the 4100 block of Peck Road earlier and left. He returned while the employee was getting ready to close the store.
The woman tried to lock the doors but he allegedly forced his way in. Amaya allegedly barricaded the doors, dragged the woman to the back of the business and sexually assaulted her, authorities said.
Detectives searched for the 18-year-old suspect.
“Amaya had been hiding with family and friends moving from El Monte to La Puente and Hacienda Heights,” Cobian said.
He was arrested in West Covina on Saturday after a traffic stop. Cobian said Amaya was in a vehicle with six adults and one minor.
Amaya remains in custody on $5 million bail. His Wednesday arraignment at Pomona Superior Court was continued to Nov. 13, court officials said.

- Ruby Gonzales

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Deputies help launch Red Ribbon Week at Nelson Elementary School in La Puente

REDRIBBON1LA PUENTE — Sheriff’s deputies visited Nelson Elementary School Wednesday to help the school kick of Red Ribbon Week. Deputies spoke with students about topics such as drug avoidance and leadership, and students got a chance to get an up-close look at sheriff’s vehicles and equipment, Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. The deputies also handed out coloring books. “The special assignment guys deployed the remote control robot. The kids just had a fabulous time,” Cacheiro said. “We had a great time.” The visit was to mark the beginning of Red Ribbon Week Oct. 23-31, a national campaign urging youths to stay drug-free.

REDRIBBON2PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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La Puente woman vanishes while en route to Pasadena City College

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Authorities sought the public’s help Friday in locating a 22-year-old La Puente woman who vanished a little more than a week ago while believed to be en route to class at Pasadena City College.
Gale Anne Williams last spoke with relatives Sept. 25, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement. She has no vehicle or cell phone and was believed to be heading to PCC. She was reported missing Oct. 1.
“Relatives say the subject has gone missing in the past, as recently as June, but not for this duration,” according to the police statement. “Inquiries with area hospitals and other facilities have been fruitless.”
Though Arcadia lies between William’s hometown of La Puente and PCC, “There is no known nexus with the subject to the City of Arcadia,” the statement said. “The missing person report has been referred to the Pasadena Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Industry Station.”
Authorities described Williams as half black and half white, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 130 pounds, with medium-length brown curly hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a black and blue shirt and black leggings.
Anyone with information was asked to contact local law enforcement. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTO of Gale Williams courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department.

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