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Police break up alleged meth ring

June 18, 2004|By Jake Armstrong

Sixty pounds of methamphetamine and four pounds of cocaine were seized and four people were arrested last week in a raid on one of the San Fernando Valley's largest suspected methamphetamine rings, Glendale police said.

Tips from a September 2003 drug investigation led police from Glendale and other agencies last Wednesday to homes in the 900 block of Lucas Street in San Fernando and the 1100 block of Blutcher Street in Granada Hills, where the drugs were found wrapped in materials intended to conceal odors and buried 3 feet underground in the backyards, police said.

In addition to the drugs, said to be worth $5 million at street value, a Hummer stretch limousine, a 30-foot speedboat and a 1964 Chevy Impala were seized in the raid, which resulted in the arrests of 30-year-old Genero "Henry" Rodriguez, 29-year-old Jesus Chavez Frias, 29-year-old Gabriela Navarro Jimenez and 21-year-old Cynthia Marquez, police said. More then $250,000 was also seized.

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Police suspect the vehicles and boat are proceeds from cocaine and methamphetamine sales. Various state and federal charges related to narcotics sales and transportation are pending against the four suspects, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

Investigators believe all four suspects are members of an alleged drug ring responsible for methamphetamine distribution from San Diego to Santa Barbara, police said.

"Just based on the amount [of drugs seized], we guess it was statewide; it could be nationwide," Lorenz said.

A federal judge has ordered Rodriguez to be transported to Milwaukee, Wis., to answer to charges of distributing 52 kilograms of cocaine, Lorenz said. The remaining three suspects have been released, pending further investigation.

According to Lorenz, the alleged drug ring has existed for several years and did have connections in Glendale. He said the quantity of methamphetamine seized represents the largest such seizure by Glendale police, who conducted the investigation in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Santa Barbara Regional Narcotic Enforcement Team and other county and state law enforcement agencies.

In September 2003, Glendale police worked with those same agencies in an investigation that led to the arrests of seven suspects and the seizure of 20 kilograms of cocaine, 30 pounds of marijuana, five pounds of methamphetamine, guns and $250,000.

The investigation into last week's arrests is ongoing, Lorenz said, and investigators are looking into where the methamphetamine was produced.

"We are looking at the fact that it may have been manufactured in Mexico and then transported to the United States," Lorenz said.

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