FBI arrest of Most Wanted Fugitive Saenz detailed

LA Weekly points out that the arrest of Jose Luis Saenz was facilitated by a Mexican deportation of the mafia hit-man, not an extradition. The mag profiled Saenz in its 2010 cover piece titled: “East Los Angeles Hit Man Trained by Mexican Cartels“. He was wanted for a couple of street corner killings, the rape murder of his pregnant girlfriend and the slaying of a Whittier man in connection with a $600,000 drug debt.

This from LA Weekly:

For years, nobody has had a death wish strong enough to rat out Smiley for these killings, save for young Juan Pena. Dying several years ago of childhood leukemia, he fingered his blood brother Saenz for the executions on North Clarence Street.

But Smiley, with his intense black eyes and his quick, deviant mind, vanished from the local cops’ radar for 10 years — to Mexico for some of that time, the FBI says, where he morphed from East L.A. tagger and Cuatro Flats gang member to a connected, Mexican-cartel drug “soldier” — simply put, a high-level executioner, and then trafficker, operating on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.

Here’s video of the Whittier slaying — warning it is graphic:

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TV audition ends in death of wife and arrest of husband

“America’s Got Talent” audition, ecstasy, speed, a missing woman and the arrest of a rock musician. This story has some interesting twists:


Los Angeles police said Tuesday the wife of a man vying for a spot on “America’s Got Talent” was found dead in the stairwell of an upscale hotel where the T.V. show was holding auditions.

Covina native Laura Finley, 48, was discovered about 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning by a guest of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

Police said her death appeared to be accidental, but they are looking into “other possibilities” as a precaution, Los Angeles Police Lt. Paul Vernon said.

The coroner’s office is waiting for the results of toxicology tests before determining Laura Finley’s cause of death, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said.

Laura Finley grew up in Covina and married her high school sweet heart, Joe Finley, four years after graduating from Northview High School in 1980, said Laura Finley’s sister, Jill Sutterlin.

“My sister loved her husband more than she loved her children and herself,” Sutterlin said. “She was his number one fan.”

Joe Finley called hotel security and reported his wife missing after he got out of bed Saturday, Vernon said.

The 47-year-old rock musician then attended an audition for the NBC reality T.V. show, Vernon said. Police later notified him about the death of his wife.

Joe Finley was arrested early Sunday on suspicion of drug possession, Vernon said.

During an interview with detectives, Joe Finley said he and his wife had consumed ecstasy before her death, Vernon said.

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West Covina woman among those arrested at border on drug charges

This from Borderfire:

San Diego – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry along the California/ Mexico border seized almost 2,900 pounds of narcotics valued at $2.2 million, captured 13 fugitives, and stopped the illegal entry of 417 persons over the busy holiday weekend.

From 6 a.m. on Friday through 6 a.m. on Tuesday, CBP officers at the six land ports of entry intercepted 16 smuggling attempts involving marijuana and methamphetamine. The drugs were hidden in various areas of the vehicles such as in the gas tank, in the bumpers and the spare tire.

The largest seizure occurred at the San Ysidro border station on Sunday at about 1:30 p.m. after a detector dog alerted to a the back wall of a motor-home pulled by a Ford F-350 pickup as it and the two female occupants waited in line to be inspected. The women and conveyance were escorted into the secondary area for a more intensive examination.

Officers subsequently discovered 78 wrapped packages of marijuana in the rear wall of the motor home weighing 1,764 pounds, valued at more than $1 million.

Both the driver, a 34-year-old U.S. citizen from Big Bear, Calif., and her passenger, a 46-year-old U.S. citizen from West Covina, Calif., were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and transported to the Metropolitan Correctional Center. CBP seized the narcotics and conveyance.

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Rethinking Mexico after Bobby Salcedo’s death

On Thursday I began rethinking Mexico.

We learned that day that Bobby Salcedo, an assistant principal at El Monte High School and El Monte City School Board member was shot to death with five other men in the town of Gomez Palacio.

Mexican authorities tell us the men were casualties of the ongoing drug war. A war that in Gomez Palacio during 2009 claimed countless lives including that of the town’s police chief.

If the U.S. State Department’s warning issued in August against travel to Mexico clinically pointed out brutal drug violence has plagued that country, Salcedo’s assassination brought it home in a way that none of us in the San Gabriel Valley will soon forget.

Salcedo, 33, was a rising star in a community that lacks credible role models. He worked his way through school, he mentored kids and volunteered to help the less fortunate in South El Monte’s sister city – Gomez Palacio.

It was there he met his wife, Betzy. It was there Salcedo was abducted, shot to death and dumped in a ditch.


The answers aren’t clear. Some say it was a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever the answer, Salcedo is a casualty of a vendetta among rival gangs, local authorities and the federales, all fighting for control of something no one can control.

That is what Mexico has become. It is why so many Americans are afraid to travel there anymore. Forget about surfing at K19, having Ortega-style lobster at Puerto Nuevo, or sipping daiquiris at sunset at the Rosarito Beach Hotel.

It wasn’t always that way.

I think back to spring break 1980.

Bill Morrow from Whittier and I concocted a simple plan. We would drive from UCSD to a small fishing village south of Ensenada and hang out for the week.

Of course we needed a car, so we enlisted Gene Helsel, who had a sky blue Ford Fiesta with a tape player. We popped in Pink Floyd’s “Animals” and hit the road.

A late winter storm cleared in time for us to make the journey. Things were smooth until we hit Ensenada. From there we played a game counting the road signs that said “devastacion.”

The mostly dirt road had been washed out in parts by untamed creeks. Mud was everywhere, but the skies were blue and wildflowers were just beginning to bloom.

At more than one point we stopped as a flock of chickens crossed the road. We hit San Quintin at nightfall and stayed in a motel that had a restaurant and bar.

Even though we were teenagers, we drank tequila and beer and watched a group of fishermen down flaming shots of 151.

A few days later we returned home after a stop at Hussongs on Lopez Mateos in Ensenada where we listened to mariachis, bought panchos and counterfeit Marlboros and ate bean cones from a street vendor.

We didn’t even get sick.

Since then, I’ve enjoyed many trips south, I’ve viewed the sunset from a friend’s trailer in the hills above Ensenada, and eaten borrego while drinking sweet port on a vineyard farther east.

I’ve been to the barrios of Mexicali, factories in Tijuana and colonias outside Rosarito.

That was when Mexico was safe. It isn’t anymore.

When it exactly changed no one can say for sure. But after Bobby’s death it will never be the same.


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Mexico’s Gulf Cartel targeted by feds

This from the Los Angeles Times:

Federal authorities announced indictments Monday against the reputed leaders of Mexico’s Gulf cartel and its paramilitary force, the Zetas, accusing them of trafficking tons of cocaine and marijuana from South America through the Texas-Mexico border.

Three of the men are identified as the “triumvirate” that manages the far-flung enterprise, dividing its territories among themselves. Another reputed leader, Miguel Angel Trevio Morales, allegedly controls the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo, where the cartel is believed to funnel large amounts of drugs through the busy truck crossing into Laredo, Texas.

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Former Glendora cop nailed in drug bust

This from the DA’s office:

LOS ANGELES – The District Attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division announced charges today against a former Glendora police officer accused of taking money.

Timothy Radogna, 33 (dob 07/10/75), is charged with one count each of possession of a controlled substance with a firearm, possession for sale of a controlled substance and grand theft exceeding $400.

Radogna could be arraigned as early as tomorrow in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. The defendant was charged in a felony complaint for arrest warrant on May 14. Radogna is being held on $150,000 bail.

If convicted as charged, the defendant faces a maximum term of nine years and eight months in state prison.

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Manny Ramirez — PONCHADO!

I loved the 100+ point headline in LA Opinion this morning, and the paper’s overall treatment of the Manny Ramirez positive drug test. Most times, the English language blogs in our county overlook the contributions of the region’s lively Spanish and Asian language newspapers.

Fortunately there’s Google translate. Here’s what the few grafs of LA Opinion’s story have to say this morning:

At first sight, and feel the Dodger Stadium seemed to be a branch of hell.

In the midst of a temperature exceeding 90 degrees, the high command of the Dodgers called a rare news conference on an inclement sun.

It was a cold and warm concern to disseminate the news as a bomb fell in Los Angeles.

Manny Ramrez, the man who loaded the team on his shoulders since his arrival at the end of last season, tested positive in doping analysis. Supposedly, Ramirez used Ganodotropina human chorionic (HCG). It is prescribed to stimulate fertility in women and testosterone production in men.

However, Ramirez argued that the real responsibility for what happened was a prescribed medicine that the doctor recently.

The best toletero right of Major League was suspended for 50 games and began yesterday to meet his doom.

Since we’re on the subject, the Chinese World Journal led with the Dodgers first home loss of the season before mentioning Manny:
Dodgers (Dodgers) won the first set of six points, but unable to stop in the last three nationals (Nationals) counterattack, very this year, the first home defeat Dodge has just hit the night before the opening quarter of 13 straight major league home record, this was cut.

Manny Ramirez Manny Ramirez hit strong (Manny Ramirez) the use of drugs, starting from the day of suspension 50 Manager Torre (Joe Torre) convened a closed-door meeting of players and coaches to deploy. Andre Ethier  one was sent after against the base. (James Loney) added immediately a hit, scored the first points for the Dodgers. Matt Kamp Camp (Matt Kamp) timely home run ball hit the right wall, hit a grand slam from red.

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50 game suspension for Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez

Dodger slugger Manny Ramirez will be suspended for 50 games, according to the Los Angeles Times this morning. Ramirez reportedly tested positive for a performance enhancing drug.

Here’s the Times story:

Manny Ramirez has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and will be suspended 50 games starting today, The Times has learned.

The test result and suspension is expected to be announced later today.

Ramirez works out at a Pasadena gym.
Here’s what MLB.com is reporting:


LOS ANGELES — Major League Baseball will suspend Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez for 50 games for use of performance enhancing drugs, sources told MLB.com on Thursday.

Major League Baseball has not yet made an official announcement.

Ramirez, who turns 37 on May 30, would be eligible to return July 3 if the suspension starts with Thursday night’s Dodgers-Nationals game.

Ramirez — an 12-time All-Star who immediately became the face of the Dodgers franchise upon his acquisition last summer — is the biggest name player to be issued such a suspension under the MLB’s stringent drug policy that was adopted in 2006.

According to the drug policy, a player receives a 50-game suspension for a first positive drug test, a 100-game suspension for a second positive test and a lifetime ban for a third positive test. The suspensions are without pay.

Ramirez re-signed with the Dodgers as a free agent this spring to a two-year contract that was to pay him $25 million.

Ramirez has been a key component in leading the Dodgers to the best record in baseball this year. In 27 games, he is batting .348 with six home runs and 20 RBIs. He is among league leaders in slugging and on-base percentage and has become the biggest drawing card the Dodgers have had since Fernando Valenzuela, even recently having a portion of the left-field box seats rechristened “Mannywood.”


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Brothers suspected in Covina attack

Something about this case struck a nerve in Covina. I’ve had tons of phone calls about the neighborhood, which is an apparently drug and gang infested portion of Covina that gets little in the way of daily police attention.

Cops first described the victim Ocie May as a transient, but his family, residents of Covina, insisted that Ocie was anything but a transient.

Witnesses said they called and offered police information after the slaying but were never contacted by detectives.

The suspects’ sister insists her brothers are innocent and have been set up.

Here’s the story:

COVINA – A pair of brothers have been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a man in a dark alley, authorities said Monday.

Arrested on suspicion of murder were Arnett and Wakeem Ghoston, police said.

Killed was Ocie Daniel May, 26, a Covina resident.

Arnett was being held in lieu of $1 million, according to Los Angeles County jail records. Joaquin had not been booked as of 7:30 p.m. Monday.

“We’ve got the two in custody,” Covina police Sgt. Rick Walczak said.

The arrest of two men in connection with the shooting matches a description provided by a witness to the shooting Monday.

May, 26, was slain in an alleyway in the 600 block of East Ruddock Street. Police said the killing followed an altercation that occurred about 8 p.m. Thursday.

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