Dead man was subject of West Covina federal drug probe

Federal agents and West Covina police had been conducting a drug investigation of a man when he was fatally shot Thursday by a West Covina police officer, authorities said Friday.

Emmanuel Alvarez, 27, was wearing a bulletproof vest and had a five pounds of methamphetamine in his car when two West Covina police officers stopped him on Azusa Avenue, just north of Merced Avenue, at about 3 p.m. Thursday, West Covina police Chief Frank Wills said.

Police said Alvarez was shot to death after he reached for a semiautomatic handgun.

“These were criminals that were going to go out in a blaze of glory,” Wills said. “They were all carrying semiautomatic guns and bulletproof vests.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, at the request of West Covina police, were conducting a joint investigation into Alvarez and the two other men riding in the car, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman with ICE.

Authorities identified those two as Fred Beltran, 23, and the dead man’s brother, Juan Carlos Alvarez, 37.

Wills said Alvarez and the two men were being investigated for “a narcotics violation and possession of illegal narcotics.”

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OIS in West Covina

Sheriff’s homicide investigators are en route to West Covina to investigate an officer involved shooting at the intersection of Azusa Avenue and Merced Street, officials said. Few details are available. The shooting appears to have been at the end of some sort of pursuit.

Craig Harvey, chief of operations for the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner says investigators are en route to the scene of the shooting. Harvey reports that one man is dead. 
“The unidentified male apparently reached for an officer’s weapon,” Harvey told Brian Day. “Shots were fired.” 
Harvey said an altercation between a West Covina police officer and the suspect took place prior to the shooting. 
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West Covina shooting leaves young woman dead another injured

A shooting in West Covina Tuesday night left one woman dead and an unidentified person injured, according to news reports this morning The homicide is the sixth in West Covina this year and 77th in the San Gabriel Valley since January.

Here’s what KTLA is reporting this morning:

WEST COVINA — Police are searching for the gunman who killed a woman in her 20s and wounded another person inside a home in West Covina.

The shooting was reported just before 7 p.m. Tuesday in the 1400 block of East Workman Avenue, near North Lark Ellen Avenue, said West Covina Police Cpl. Rudy Lopez. .

Several neighbors heard gunshots and called police.

Police arrived within one minute and found two gunshot victims, he said.

A woman in her 20s was dead at the scene, according to the Los Angeles County 


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Huntington Park cop known as “The Godfather” sentenced in drug case

This from the U.S. Department of Justice: 

       A former Huntington Park Police Officer who for a time worked on federal drug trafficking investigations was sentenced today to 15 years in federal prison for stealing cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana from narcotics dealers and then selling the drugs for personal profit.

        Sergeant Alvaro Murillo, 45, of West Covina, who was called El Padrino (The Godfather) by his co-conspirators, was sentenced late this morning by United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson.

        The sentencing follows a trial in May in which a federal court jury found Murillo guilty of two drug conspiracies, one count of extortion and one count of submitting a false tax return. The evidence at trial showed that Murillo orchestrated six thefts, which yielded him nearly 700 pounds of marijuana, four pounds of methamphetamine and well over 10 pounds of cocaine. Murillo attempted a seventh theft of 30 kilograms of cocaine – “the big one,” as he called it – but that was not successful because the target was an undercover federal agent who was posing as a drug dealer. Sentencing papers filed by the government argued that Murillo was involved in additional drug thefts not discussed at his trial.

        From late 2002 through the fall of 2006, Murillo worked with informants – who sometimes called themselves the “black tactic group” – to identify drug dealers from whom they could steal narcotics. Once a target was identified, Murillo checked law enforcement databases to obtain information about the dealer and to make sure there were no legitimate investigations into the target. After planning the thefts, the informants would trick the drug dealer into turning over narcotics or otherwise cause the drug dealer to leave without payment, often with Murillo in the area to act as backup. Once they had secured the narcotics, Murillo and the people involved in the thefts made arrangements to store and then to sell the stolen drugs. Testimony at trial showed that Murillo typically demanded to receive the sale of drug proceeds in cash, and the jury heard evidence that he received training on money laundering tactics used by narcotics traffickers.

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A spate of missing or dead women

Perhaps this sort of news comes in threes:

There was the woman’s body found in the Angeles National Forest.

There was the West Covina woman found shot to death in Pomona.
How long until Fox News or CNN pays attention? (Don’t hold your breath — none of these women were teen prom queens, models or lived on the East Coast)
We’ll keep on top of it here though ….
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A murderous night in the SGV

A woman was killed in Covina. Police are now seeking her boyfriend.

A man was killed in a West Covinadomestic dispute.
A teen was killed in a Glendora drug deal gone bad.
And a man was found stabbed to death near Pasadena City College.
Record temperatures are on tap again today … with a cooling trend hopefully moving in later this week.
We’ll be following all these cases throughout the day.
I was at the scene of the West Covina dispute Monday evening, and shot some photos of the aftermath.
Perhaps the most interesting is the Covina case. Originally police thought they had a suicide on their hands. They responded to a report of gunshots, but the victim may not have been shot.
The man who was stabbed to death in Pasadena tried to flag down passersby before an ambulance came.
The Glendora case sounds tragic. Apparently the victim’s mother and father were nearby but unable to see their mortally wounded son once police arrived on scene.
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Back from Spring Break

Looks like crime in the Valley soared over Easter Week. Shootings in La Puente, Rosemead and a guy in West Covina beat and sliced up his wife, according to the cops.

Ladies getting ready for Easter even had to be careful in a Rowland Heights nail salon.
Oh, and apparently Centinelhas returned to the Foothill Cities Blog.
Such is life in the SGV. I wouldn’t trade it for any thing else though.
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Thursday’s column (A look back)

I`m staring at a black and white photo taken inside the Citrus Courthouse in the early 1960s.

A defendant is sitting at the counsel table. His chin rests on clenched fists. Cameras are in his face.

In the photo, press photographers surround Dr. Raymond Bernard Finch. After three sensational trials, a jury has convicted the West Covina doctor and his mistress, Carole Tregoff, of killing Finch’s wife, Barbara.

The verdict has just been read – the cameras and reporters are there to record everything, just as they had from Day One.

In July 1959, Barbara Finch turned up dead on Larkhill Drive. Someone found her body stuffed between shrubs lining the long driveway leading up to her split-level home above the South Hills Country Club. Finch had been shot to death.

Cameras in the courthouse were part of the scenery.

It’s something you will never see in a local newspaper again.

Just last week, one of our photographers took a photo of attorneys having a discussion in the lobby of Pasadena Superior Court.

A terse letter from Alan Parachini, county court spokesman and onetime ACLU flak, followed. It noted that our photographer was in violation of local rule such and such.

This from a guy who represented the ACLU.

We took the photo off the Web. Times have changed.

It’s been almost 50 years, but this week another woman turned up dead on Larkhill Drive. Her name was Susan Molina. The home


where she lived and died overlooks the back yard of the Finch split-level.

Investigators believe someone bludgeoned Molina to death then stuffed her body in a closet.

That’s about all we know, obtaining that much information from police was a struggle.

It’s interesting to compare media coverage and police techniques of 50 years ago. Especially fascinating is seeing in black and white the much closer and far more trusting relationship cops and reporters had in 1959.

In the Finch case, press photographers got a shot of the body with the help of a cop who illuminated the crime scene with a flashlight.

In the Molina case, cops faxed a dry, tersely worded four-paragraph press release several hours after they had wrapped up their investigation.

When Finch’s husband was arrested, a photographer and reporter interviewed the doctor in his jail cell.

By contrast, West Covina police announced the arrest of two persons in connection with a homicide that occurred Wednesday night and tried to withhold the names.

Forget about a jailhouse interview. Times have changed.

Film has been replaced by microchips. Newspapers are rapidly dwindling in readers and stature.

Cops who once worked homicides because they had a passion for justice have been replaced by cops who are concerned about their clearance rates.

A cop who would have held a flashlight now has to worry about how evidence will withstand the scrutiny of a DAs office concerned about getting convictions. They dot I’s and cross T’s to appease appelate judges willing to put cold-blooded killers back on the street because of a technicality.

Times have changed – maybe for the better …

They don’t trust us. Why should we trust them?

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