Chain-reaction crash on 60 Freeway in South El Monte leaves 5-year-old girl dead, 13 others injured



SOUTH EL MONTE >> A young child was fatally injured early Thursday and 13 other people were hurt in a fiery, 11-vehicle crash on the eastbound 60 Freeway at Santa Anita Avenue, authorities said.
Maydelin Salas, 5, of South El Monte died at a hospital shortly after the wreck, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
She was riding as the left, rear passenger in a 2004 Nissan minivan that was struck from behind by a tanker truck hauling milk, setting off a chain-reaction.
“Due to the severity of her injuries, we were unable to save her,” Beverly Hospital Emergency Care Center Assistant Medical Director Dr. Raul Lopez said in a written statement.


PHOTO by Keith Durflinger

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Pomona man accused of abandoning 6-year-old boy at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area

SOUTH EL MONTE >> Investigators arrested a Pomona man early Thursday for allegedly abandoning his prospective adopted 6-year-old son at the Whittier Narrow Recreation Area in South El Monte earlier this week.
Deputies arrested Juan Manuel Garcia-Tellez, 31, about 9 a.m. Thursday after spotting him at his Pomona home, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records. He is in a relationship with the boy’s mother and was apparently in the process of trying to adopt the boy.
The investigation began about 9:40 p.m. Monday when a good Samaritan called authorities to report finding a 6-year-old boy wandering alone in the park near Legg Lake, Deputy Johnny Jones of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Parks Bureau said.
“He was just throwing rocks into he water. He was crying because he was looking for his dad.”
A car, later determined to be Garcia-Tellez’s, was found several miles away, however there were no signs of the man, officials said.
“The child, who was cold and hungry, was placed in the deputy’s patrol car and fed while parks bureau personnel continued to search,” Jones said.
After more than three hours of searching with no success, deputies turned the boy over to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services about 1 a.m., Jones said.
Officials ultimately contacted the boy’s mother and returned her child to her.
Garcia-Tellez’s motive was not clear, Jones said. The suspect said he left the boy at the park while running errand.
But investigators learned that he had been involved in an argument with the boy’s mother hours before leaving the boy alone at the park.
Deputies stopped by Garcia-Tellez home several times this week, but did not find him, Jones said. But they found him there Thursday morning and took him into custody without a struggle.
Garcia-Tellez was booked on suspicion of child endangerment, Jones said.
He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in El Monte Superior Court, records show.

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Sixty-seven arrested during first day of two-day rave at Whittier Narrows


SOUTH EL MONTE >> Deputies made 67 arrests Saturday during the first day of the two-day HARD Summer 2014 music festival taking place at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, authorities said.
About 40,000 people were estimated to have attended the first day of the rave-style electronic music festival, with similar attendance expected Sunday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Of the 67 arrests made Saturday, 60 were for fake identification cards, sheriff’s Deputy Johnny Jones said.
Six people were arrested on suspicion of selling drugs, Jones said.
And one person was arrested Saturday on suspicion of robbery after stealing an event staff shirt from the back of a worker, Jones said. The suspect was apprehended following the crime, which was apparently committed in an effort to sneak into the festival.
Statistics were not available for Sunday as the concert continued, but Jones noted there had been “a few” arrests.

PHOTO – Deputies watch over the HARD Summer 2014 music festival from their command post at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area in South El Monte. (Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

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SuperLotto Plus ticket sold in South El Monte hits $26 million jackpot

SOUTH EL MONTE >> A SuperLotto Plus ticket sold at a South El Monte liquor store won the jackpot in Saturday night’s drawing, earning $26 million for a newly-wealthy patron, according to the California Lottery.
The ticket matched all six numbers in the drawing: 6, 16, 22, 27, 32 and Mega Number 3, California Lottery officials said in a written statement. It was sold at Sam’s Liquor, 9660 Garvey Ave.
The winner was yet to come forward Sunday, store manager Bobby Lee said. The business is owned by his parents.
Lottery officials called the store Saturday night to inform the family they had sold a jackpot ticket, Lee said.
A represented visited the store Sunday morning to leave decorations and celebrate the win, he added.
As the retailer of the ticket, the store is entitled to one-half of one-percent of the $26 million jackpot, or $130,000.
Lee said his family had not determined what to do with their share of the win.
“We’re still too excited. We don’t know yet,” he said.
Lee said the ticket was the biggest winner the store had ever sold.
In addition the jackpot ticket, two other tickets matching five of the six numbers in Saturday’s drawing were sold in Bakersfield and Victorville, winning $23,172 each. Twelve other tickets sold statewide matched four numbers, winning $1,931 each.

Sam’s Liquor, 9660 Garvey Ave. in South El Monte, sold a SuperLotto Plus ticket that won the $26 million jackpot in a drawing on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014. Manager Bobby Lee stands in front of the store on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. (Staff photo by Brian Day)

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Covina police raid marijuana grow inside South El Monte commercial building


SOUTH EL MONTE >> Officers arrested two people and discovered more than 700 marijuana plants growing in a vacant business on Thursday.
Covina Police Sgt. Jim McDonough said officers served a search warrant about 1 p.m. at the secluded, seemingly vacant business in 2600 block of Chico Avenue in South El Monte.
0725_NWS_SGT-L-POT1George Almaguer, 26, Pico Rivera and Jenny Ly, 31, of Rosemead were arrested at the scene, he said. They were booked on suspicion of cultivating marijuana and theft of electricity, as the sophisticated hydroponic grow operation was wired to bypass the electrical meter and steal its power directly from the Southern California Edison grid, the sergeant said.
Police estimated the grow operation had stolen at least $10,000 worth of electricity from the utility over the past year.
“There were three different rooms, each for different stages of growth,” the sergeant said. In all, police seized 733 pot plants from the buidling.
Investigators seized about $2,000 in suspected drug money that Almaguer was carrying, McDonough added.
0725_NWS_SGT-L-POT2The building where the pot grow was uprooted Thursday was situated at the rear of a lot that was secured with a padlocked gate, McDonough said.
Thursday’s bust was related to another investigation where a grow house was found in Covina on May 26, police said.
In the May incident, officers responding to call of several downed power lines smelled marijuana coming from a house in the 200 block of North Larkin Drive. More than 200 marijuana plants were found on the Larkin Drive residence.
That investigation led to Thursday’s search and arrests in South El Monte, though McDonough declined to say exactly how detectives identified the South El Monte address as a suspected grow operation. The investigation was ongoing.
A suspect has been identified in connection with the Larkin Drive grow house, however no arrests have been made, McDonough said.

– By Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

PHOTOS courtesy of the Covina Police Department

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Kilogram of suspected cocaine seized from car in South El Monte, 3 arrested

SOUTH EL MONTE — Deputies seized more than two pounds of what was believed to be cocaine and arrested three men, including one who ran, after pulling over a car in South El Monte late Friday, authorities said.
The incident unfolded about 10 p.m. when deputies stopped a car in the area of Peck Road and Michael Hunt Drive, Sgt. A. Ben-Sahile of the sheriff’s Temple Station said.
One of the three men inside the car ran from the vehicle, initiating a search that lasted about an hour before the fleeing suspect was found hiding under a car in a nearby driveway, officials said.
The two other men who remained in the car were also arrested after deputies discovered a kilogram of a substance suspected to be cocaine — with a street value of about $30,000 — in the trunk of the car, Ben-Sahile said. The substance was to be tested to confirm its composition.
Detectives withheld the suspects’ identities Saturday as they continued their investigation, he said. They were described as Northern California men ranging from 30 to 50 years old.

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Man fatally struck by SUV, pickup truck in South El Monte identified

SOUTH EL MONTE >> Coroner’s officials Thursday released the identity of a 46-year-old Los Angeles man fatally struck by two vehicle while trying to cross Rosemead Boulevard.
Jose Javier Ramirez died at the scene of the 4:20 a.m. collision on Rosemead Boulevard, just north of the 60 Freeway, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said.
An autopsy was carried out Thursday, Harvey said. Ramirez died of blunt force injuries, and the death was ruled an accident.
He was wearing dark clothing when he tried to cross the street and was struck by a Honda CRV that was heading north on Rosemead Boulevard, California Highway Patrol Officer Doris Peniche said. The CRV driver, a Temple City man, remained at the scene and called for help.
A second vehicle, described as a white box truck, also struck Ramirez but continued driving, officials said. A further description of the truck or its driver was not available.
Officers from the East Los Angeles office of the CHP are handling the investigation.

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San Gabriel Valley men sentenced for running ‘black market peso exchange’

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge sentenced two San Gabriel Valley man to prison and fined their South El Monte-based import-export company $75,000 for illegally moving millions of dollars from the U.S. to Mexico as part of a “black market peso exchange,” officials said.
Chaur Hwan “Kenny” Lin, 67, of Temple City and Antonio Pareja, 54, of San Gabriel were each sentenced to a year in federal prison by Judge John A. Kronstadt, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. Lin was also ordered to pay a $6,000 fine, and their company, Peace & Rich Import, Inc. — a wholesale distribute of goods including silk flowers — was fined $75,000 and placed on probation for four years.
“Judge Kronstadt also ordered Peace & Rich and Lin to forfeit more than $2 million of funds related to the crime,” Mrozek said.
Lin is the president and co-owner of Peace & Rich, while Pareja serves as manager, authorities said.
They worked with Mexican businesses and “peso brokers” to help send millions of dollars south of the border while circumventing conventional financial institutions, officials said.
“An investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles determined that Lin and Pareja used Peace & Rich to receive large amounts of cash derived from illegal activity,” according to the DOJ statement. “The cash – as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars – was typically delivered by couriers working in conjunction with a peso broker in Mexico.”
The cash was often hidden in duffel bags when transferred.
Under a black market peso scheme, peso brokers worth with people such as drug traffickers who have dollars in the United States which they want to send to Mexico and convert to pesos, Mrozek explained.
“The peso broker finds business owners in Mexico who buy goods from vendors in the United States, such as Peace & Rich, and need dollars to pay for those goods,” according to the statement. “The peso broker arranges for the illegally obtained dollars in the United States to be delivered to the United States-based vendors, such as Peace & Rich, where they are used to pay for the goods purchased by the Mexico based customers. Once the goods are shipped to Mexico and sold by the Mexico based business owner for pesos, the pesos are turned over to the peso broker, who then pays the drug trafficker in Mexico.”
Additionally, prosecutors said Lin circumvented cash reporting requirements when depositing large amounts of money into banks.

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Former South El Monte High School volunteer sentenced for inappropriate photos of student

POMONA >> An ex-South El Monte High School volunteer received a one-year jail sentence Friday for taking inappropriate pictures of a 17-year-old boy who passed out at his home during a party, authorities said.
Andres Fernandez, 31, of South El Monte pleaded no contest last month to a count of possession of matter depicting a minor engaging in sexual conduct, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
He was sentenced Friday in Pomona Superior Court to one year in county jail and five years of formal probation, district attorney’s office spokesman Greg Risling said. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested him March 30 in connection with the Dec. 2, 2013, incident at Fernandez’s home.
Prosecutors alleged he held a party at his home which was attended by several students.
“At the gathering, a male teenager got drunk and passed out,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. “While the youth was unconscious, Fernandez took inappropriate pictures of the teen.”
The pictures were discovered by a coworker, who notified the school, officials said. School officials, in turn, notified sheriff’s investigators.
Fernandez, who was free on a $20,000 bond pending trial, was remanded into custody following his sentencing, according to county booking records.

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South El Monte man killed in Santa Fe Springs motorcycle crash

SANTA FE SPRINGS — Officials have released the name of a 39-year-old South El Monte man who died in a motorcycle crash in Santa Fe Springs Monday,
Jacob John Valdivia died in the 10:12 p.m. crash at Washington Boulevard and Chatfield Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Valdivia was westbound Washington Boulevard on his 2005 Harley-Davidson motorcycle at an unknown speed when he collided with a 2003 Dodge Ram pickup truck that was making a left turn from eastbound Washington Boulevard to northbound Chatfield Avenue, Officer J. Boyd of the California Highway Patrol’s Santa Fe Springs office said in written statement.
“(Valdivia) failed to stop in time as the front of the Harley-Davidson collided into the right, rear corner of the Dodge Ram,” Boyd said. “This caused major impact damage to the Harley-Davidson. (Valdivia) was ejected from the Harley-Davidson.”
Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene, officials said. The driver of the Dodge, a 27-year-old Fullerton man, was not injured in the collision.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation.

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