OC Cocaine Organization Dismantled
On Wednesday, March 23, 2005, a ten month narcotics investigation conducted jointly between the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Orange County Resident Office and the Santa Ana Police Department successfully culminated with the execution of 14 search and arrest warrants across the greater Los Angeles, Orange County and Riverside County. Seized during the course of this investigation were approximately 473 pounds of cocaine (215 kilograms), 13 pounds of pure crystal methamphetamine, 4.5 pounds of Mexican heroin, and over one million dollars in U.S. Currency.
This investigation targeted a major drug trafficking organization that had distribution centers in various cities throughout the United States. This prolific trafficking cell operated by smuggling drugs from Mexico into Southern California “stash” locations and then transporting the narcotics to U.S. cities including Greensboro, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia. Financial proceeds collected from the sale of these drugs were ultimately funneled back in bulk to Mexico. It is estimated that this organization transported approximately 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of cocaine each month to the east coast with an estimated wholesale value of $60 million per year.
Arrested today were: Lucio Pineda 33, Bolivar Medrano 39, Francisco Nava 48, Francisco Nava Jr.(AKA puneta) 21, Manuel Avila Espinoza 32, Cesar Corrales 32, Ramiro Medrano 29 and Fernando Valladolid, 25. These defendants have been charged by the US Attorney’s Office, Santa Ana, CA with various federal narcotic violations and are expected to appear for initial arraignment proceedings in US District Court, Santa Ana CA. on March 24, 2005.
Other agencies participating in the investigation included the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), California Highway Patrol, California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE), Orange Police Department, Costa Mesa Police Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Regional Narcotics Suppression Program (RNSP), San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, Inland Crackdown Allied Task Force (INCA), Palm Springs Police Department, Irvine Police Department, and the Orange County United States Attorneys Office, San Bernardino County District Attorneys Office.
This investigation remains active with additional leads being actively pursued in an attempt to totally disrupt and immobilize this organization’s drug trafficking ability to successfully operate in the United States. Further information will be disseminated to media / press outlets when available for release. Point of Contact is DEA Los Angeles Public Information Officer Jose Martinez at (213)621-6714.