News Release
Date: August 15 2007
Contact: SA Sarah Pullen
Public Information Officer
Number: 213-621-6827

Auto Dealership Used To Transport Drugs
3 Arrests and Approximately 147 Vehicles Seize

AUG 15 -- (LOS ANGELES) – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) along with the United States Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, El Monte Police Department, Bell Gardens Police Department, Pomona Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the California Department of Motor Vehicles announced today the arrest of 3 individuals and the seizure of 147 vehicles, involved in the distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine. On August 15, 2007, agents and officers conducted an operation in the 4300 block of E. Third Street in Los Angeles, which resulted in the arrest of Santos Robledo, 45, of Los Angeles, Pedro Partida, 34, of Pomona, and Jose Escobar Jr., 25, of Pomona.

“Drugs were transported in every type of hidden compartment imaginable, and brought into our communities under the guise of this auto dealership,” said Timothy J. Landrum, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA in Los Angeles. “These arrests and seizures will have a significant impact on the ability of criminals to transport and distribute cocaine, meth and marijuana into our neighborhoods. I am pleased to say that through the cooperation of our law enforcement partners, this organization will no longer have the means to operate freely on our streets.”

Partida and Robledo were arrested this afternoon when they negotiated to receive 40 pounds of methamphetamine and will face charges for conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Escobar Jr. was arrested for money laundering violations.

Debra D. King, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation's Los Angeles Field Office, stated: "Today's enforcement actions, including the execution of arrest and search warrants, is indicative of IRS - Criminal Investigation's resolve, in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, to financially disrupt criminal narcotics trafficking organizations that commit crimes and profit form their activities.  Taking away the assets from these illegal organizations hits criminals where it hurts the most – it deprives them of their profits.  IRS - Criminal Investigation specializes in following the money generated by narcotics traffickers, enabling increased criminal prosecutions and asset forfeitures.”

This two year investigation revealed that this organization would facilitate the distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine in the Los Angeles area. Additionally, the organization used their car sales business to sell vehicles equipped with concealed compartments to other Los Angeles based drug trafficking organizations. These vehicles would be used to transport drugs throughout the United States.

Ken Weldon, Chief, El Monte Police Department stated, “El Monte Police Department values our relationship with the DEA. By working together at the local, state and federal level we have been able to successfully remove one more dangerous drug trafficking organization from our community.”

This Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, High Intensity Financial Crimes Area Task Force, Southern California Drug Task Force, El Monte Police Department, Bell Gardens Police Department, Pomona Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, California Department of Motor Vehicles and the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney’s Office.

This investigation is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles United States Attorney’s Office. Any questions regarding this investigation should be directed to DEA Public Information Officer Sarah Pullen at (213) 621-6827 or Assistant United States Attorney Shannon Ryan at (213) 894-4586.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.