WHITTIER >> Police arrested four people and seized drugs, guns and hundreds of stolen or fraudulent credit cards and other identity theft-related gear during an early-morning raid Thursday at a Whittier home, officials said.
The 5 a.m. raid in the 7200 block of Lynalan Avenue was the result of a months-long investigation by the Whittier Police Department’s Special Enforcement Team, Whittier police Officer Bradley White said.
“There’s been an investigation that’s been ongoing in regard to several subjects, possibly dealing with fraud and forgery and sales of narcotics,” White said. “(Investigators) were able to get a search warrant, which was served this morning.”
A SWAT team helped with the raid, White said. Officials used flash-bang grenades and tear gas as they forced there way into the home.
Inside the home, “There were hundreds of credit cards not in the names of the suspects,” White said. Police also recovered suspected stolen checks and IDs, as well as machines used to make credit cards.
Additionally, police seized three handguns and nearly an ounce of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of about $1,000, police said.
Police arrested two men and two women who were at the home.
Resident Steven Perez, 32, of Whittier is accused of forgery, fraud, drug possession and weapons charges, White said.
Raquel Monique Olivarez, 26, and Christina Marie Arroyo, 27, both residents of the home, were arrested on suspicion of forgery and fraud, according to Whittier police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Another resident of the home, 37-year-old Joey Lojero, was cited for alleged narcotics possession, White said. And Bryan Sanchez, 19, of El Monte was jailed due to outstanding warrants.
According to booking records, Perez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance. Olivares’ bail was set at $60,000, and Arroyo was being held in lieu of $70,000 bail. Sanchez was being held without bail.
Though detectives had not yet determined exactly how the suspects obtained the allegedly stolen identifying information, White said often times, such information is taken during home and car burglaries.
Police reminded the public to avoid storing valuables, including personal information, in an unattended cars, and to make sure homes are locked and secured before leaving.
The investigation was ongoing, and additional arrested were possible, White said.
PHOTOS by Watchara Phomicinda
Law enforcement agencies throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond are planning sobriety and driver’s license checkpoints this weekend.
Police in Glendora and La Verne are planning checkpoint in their respective cities, officials said. Glendora’s checkpoint will be held from Friday night through Saturday morning, and La Verne officers will screen drivers Saturday into early Sunday morning, police officials said in written statement.
Toward Pasadena, Pasadena police are planning a checkpoint Friday night through early Saturday morning, as well Alhambra and San Gabriel police, officials said. Arcadia police have a checkpoint schedule late Saturday into early Sunday.
Whittier and Montebello police officers will hold checkpoints Friday night into Saturday morning, along with sheriff’s deputies in Pico Rivera, officials said. The sheriff’s Norwalk Station is holding a checkpoint Saturday night.
A coalition of Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies known as “Avoid the 100” has a total of 52 checkpoints planned through Jan. 1, task force coordinator and Glendora police Senior Community Service Officer Wendy Brewer said. The task force is also planning 134 DUI saturation patrols.
Funding for the operations is being provided by grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
IRWINDALE >> Irwindale police delivered a truck full of toys to the young patients at City of Hope hospital in Duarte Wednesday.
Officials collected hundreds of donated playthings during a toy drive Tuesday at Mariscos Uruapan restaurant in Irwindale, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said. Tuesday’s event featured a meet and greet with Mexican recording artist Luis Coronel.
City officials from Irwindale and La Puente joined Irwindale police in the drive, organizers said.
Police loaded the toys into a police truck Wednesday and delivered them to City of Hope, Zendejas said.
“Chief (Anthony) Miranda wants to thank all who came out to support the toy drive as we worked together to brighten the day of children who will be spending Christmas at the hospital this year,” Zendejas said.
PHOTO: Irwindale police and city officials from Irwindale and La Puente deliver donated toys to City of Hope in Duarte on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. From left to right: La Puente City Councilman David Argudo, Irwindale police Officer Shawn Cory, Irwindale police Officer Diego Cornejo, Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw and Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda. (Courtesy)
PASADENA >> A power outage affected a several pockets in southeast Pasadena along the 210 Freeway late Wednesday, officials said.
Officials first received word of the outage about 6:45 p.m., Pasadena police Lt. Ed Calatayud said.
The boundaries of the outage were Colorado Boulevard to the south, Villa Street to the north, Hill Avenue to the west and Sierra Madre Boulevard to the east, the lieutenant said.
The entire area was not without power, but rather sporadic pockets within the area, he said.
The cause of the outage was not clear.
The utility announced via its Twitter account that power was expected to be restored by 11:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, police monitored intersections with blacked-out traffic signals to help prevent crashes, Calatayud said.
SAN GABRIEL VALLEY >> A task force charged with monitoring convicts released from jail under AB 109 guidelines arrested 30 people during a compliance check throughout the western San Gabriel Valley early Wednesday, officials said.
The task force visited the listed homes of 88 people who are free on Post-Release Community Supervision, under the 2011 state prison alignment plan, Arcadia police Lt. Colleen Flores said in a written statement. The probationers were contacted at 61 of the homes, while the remaining 27 were either not home or not longer living at their listed addresses.
Compliance checks took place in Arcadia, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Monrovia, El Monte and Monterey Park, Sgt. Brett Bourgeous said.
“The zero-tolerance focus of the enforcement campaign was aimed at apprehending AB 109 absconders with outstanding warrants, and conducting compliance checks in accordance with a person’s probation conditions,” Flores said. “Many of the probationers contacted during the course of the operation were known to have previous court violations to include weapons charges, assault charges and property crimes.”
The 30 probationers arrested Wednesday were accused of crimes ranging from violating probation to drug charges, officials said. Officers jailed at least one of the probationers on suspicion of gun possession and seized a firearm.
The West San Gabriel Valley Anti-Crime Task Force is comprised of officers from the Arcadia, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Monrovia, El Monte and Monterey Park police departments, as well as the Los Angeles County Probation Department. Officials from the Long Beach, Burbank, Glendale and San Fernando police department also took part in Wednesday’s campaign, along with Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and officials from the County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services.
GLENDORA >> A man accused of brutally stabbing two homeless men to death as they slept at a Glendora Car wash last year pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder charges in Pomona Superior Court, prosecutors said.
Drew Alan Friis, 29, of Glendora potentially faces the death penalty if convicted as charged of the Aug. 15, 2013, slayings of John “Little John” Welch and Warren Blagrave, both 52, at a car wash in the 200 block of Route 66, where they has been spending the night in the weeks leading up to their deaths.
Prosecutors are yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty in the case, or a life sentence without the possibility of parole, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. In addition to two counts of murder, officials allege the special circumstance of multiple murders, as well as the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the killings.
Investigators arrested Friis the same day the killings occurred. Friis said he was upset with one of the victims, but did not tell officials why, Lt. Ray Lugo of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said earlier this year.
Blagrave suffered more than 25 stab wounds, officials said. Welch was stabbed more than 20 times.
Friis is scheduled to return to court Feb. 20 for a preliminary hearing, officials said. In the meantime, he is being held without bail.
COVINA >> Police Wednesday recovered two laptop computers stolen in an elementary school break-in in September and arrested a local teenage boy in connection with the theft, officials said.
Someone stole the computers the weekend of Sept. 19 to Sept. 22 while breaking into two separate classrooms at Glen Oak Elementary School, 1000 N. Sunflower Ave., Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said in a written statement.
The computers, owned by the Charter Oak Unified School District, were equipped with GPS tracking devices, police said.
“During the investigation, information was obtained from the company monitoring the GPS tracking devices that both computers were being used in a residence in located in the 1300 block of N. Sunflower in the city of Covina,” Peterson said. “Based on this information, a search warrant was obtained for the residence.”
Officers served the warrant early Wednesday and found both computers, Peterson said. Investigators arrested a 17-year-old boy who lives at the home on suspicion of possessing or receiving stolen property. The boy was booked and released to his parents with a court date.
“Both laptop computers were still in working order and will be returned to the Charter Oak Unified School District in the near future,” Peterson said.
WHITTIER >> A man beat a senior citizen unconscious and stole the victim’s car at knifepoint early Wednesday in the parking lot of a Whittier 99 Cents Only Store before being captured, police said.
Michael Echavarria, 27, of Whittier is accused of carjacking in connection with the 7:55 a.m. crime outside the store, 15345 Whittier Boulevard, Whittier police Officer Bradley White said.
A 67-year-old Whittier man arrived in the parking lot of the store and was exiting his car when Echavarria approached, White said.
“The victim said the suspect brandished a knife and then began to strike him in his head with his fist until he lost consciousness,” police said in a written statement. “When the victim came to, he noticed his vehicle — 2011 Toyota Yaris, red in color — was missing.”
Paramedics took the victim to a hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released by medical staff, White said.
The suspect and the victim’s car were gone when police responded to what was initially reported as fight, White said.
But an officers spotted the stolen Toyota about two hours later at Whittier Boulevard and Painter Avenue, he said.
Officers cautiously pulled over the car and took the driver, later identified as Echavarria, into custody, police said.
Police recovered a pocket knife from the suspect and were trying to confirm it was the same blade brandished at the carjacking victim, White said.
Echavarria was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, officials said.
PASADENA >> A drunken man punched and knocked out a woman during a dispute in Old Pasadena early Sunday, police said.
Jose Alfredo Castellanos, 27, of Los Angeles is accused of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the alleged 1:40 a.m. attack on a sidewalk at Colorado Boulevard and Raymond Avenue, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said Castellanos approached the victim, a 21-year-old Los Angeles woman, and her friend and “tried to engage them in conversation.”
The victim became uncomfortable when Castellanos touched her friend on the hip, Luna said.
“The victim asked the suspect to leave, at which time the suspect pushed the victim,” the lieutenant said.
“The victim pushed the suspect back,” Luna said. (Castellanos) punched her in the head, rendering her unconscious.”
Responding police officers captured Luna following a short foot chase, Luna said.
After regaining consciousness, the woman complained of pain to her head and chest, but declined to be taken to a hospital, Luna said.
According to booking records, Castellanos was being held in lieu of $30,00 bail at the Pasadena Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance.
ROSEMEAD — A fire damaged two Rosemead homes early Sunday, displacing two families, authorities said.
Officials first received reports of the fire in the 2600 block of Gladys Avenue at 9:57 a.m., Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Melanie Flores said.
Firefighters encountered heavy smoke on arrival and found the fire was burning its way through two homes sitting next door to each other.
Officials declared the fire extinguished at 10:33 a.m., Flores said.
No injuries were reported, however both families occupying the scorched homes were displaces, she said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation. The extent of the damage was not immediately clear.