LOS ANGELES, CA – An investigation by the San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Task Force resulted in the arrest of 16 of 27 defendants today who face federal narcotics charges for their roles in a methamphetamine distribution network, announced representatives from the agencies who jointly conducted the investigation at a press conference this morning.
DEA ASAC Chris Evans to the right of the Operation Crystal Light Target Poster, AUSA Shawn Nelson at the podium during a press conference.
The arrests this morning mark the culmination of a 16 month investigation, Operation Crystal Light, by the San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Gang Task Force, which is made up of agents and officers with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pasadena Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives devoted a great deal of resources throughout this investigation.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The indictment, which was unsealed this morning, charges a total of 27 defendants, several of whom were already in custody prior to today’s operation. The indictment outlines hundreds of overt acts that formed the basis for the conspiracy to manufacture; possess and distribute large quantities of nearly pure methamphetamine.
The indictment charges the defendants for their roles in the distribution of methamphetamine, the possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine; for conspiring to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribution of methamphetamine and maintaining drug-involved premises; all violations of the United States Code, Title 21. Eight defendants are currently being sought by law enforcement.
The indictment details the roles of each defendant in the methamphetamine distribution conspiracy involving members and associates of the La Familial Michoacán
drug trafficking organization (or LFM) and gang members associated with Los Amables and Westside Pomona Malditos gang members.
The indictment alleges that a main defendant, Jose Juan Garcia Barron, spent time between Los Angeles County and Mexico and controlled the importation of methamphetamine from Mexico to the United States where it was sold on the streets of Los Angeles County by networks made up of local gang members or their associates, who pay taxes to the Mexican Mafia.
The drugs were imported in an unfinished or liquid state and were then converted for local distribution in a process known as re-crystallization or “icing.” Investigators believe the drugs were imported by airplane, boats and in vehicles crossing the border. The quality of the methamphetamine was, in most cases, 99 percent pure.
The defendants range from alleged cartel members to street gang members or associates whose activity fueled violence in the communities in which they operated.
In addition to today’s arrests, 13 search warrants were executed in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. During the execution of the search warrants, investigators found quantities of methamphetamine, white rock substances, various pills not yet identified, drug paraphernalia and at least nine firearms. Searches are continuing throughout the morning.
The federal defendants arrested today are expected to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles. Many of the defendants face a ten year statutory maximum penalty of life in prison, if convicted, and some of the defendants face life in prison, if convicted on all charges.
Several agencies participated in the execution of arrest and search warrants this morning, to include agents and officers with the Drug Enforcement Administration; Ontario Police Department; L.A. IMPACT; U.S. Immigration, Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and the Los Angeles Police Department.
This case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
Click here for Operation Crystal Light Target poster.