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SoCal Smugglers Shipping 660 pounds Of Cocaine A Month March 24, 2005 kfmb.com
Federal agents arrested 10 alleged members of a Southern California drug smuggling ring that shipped $60 million worth of cocaine each year to cities nationwide.
"It was a very large-scale operation," Assistant U.S. Attorney Terri Flynn said Wednesday, noting the drug ring was moving about 660 pounds of cocaine each month.
Conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine charges were filed against Lucio Pineda, 33, Bolivar Medrano, 39, Francisco Nava, 48, Francisco Nava Jr. 21, Manuel Avila Espinoza, 32, Cesar Corrales, 32, Ramiro Medrano, 29, and Fernando Valladolid, 25.
They were arrested Wednesday at eight locations in Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, said Paul Clayton, the agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Orange County office.
Two others, Fernando Valladolid and Amando Avila, were arrested on the same charges earlier this month and as many as six more arrests were expected.
During the course of the yearlong investigation, agents seized about 473 pounds of cocaine, 14 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, 4.5 pounds of Mexican heroin and more than $1 million in cash, Clayton said.
The California Highway Patrol, Orange County Sheriff's Department and the police departments of Costa Mesa, Irvine and Orange assisted in the investigation.
The drug ring smuggled drugs from Mexico to Southern California, packaged them at "stash" locations in Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties and then sent them by flatbed truck to cities that included Greensboro, N.C., and Atlanta, investigators said.