(LOS ANGELES) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that a six-month investigation of a major intercontinental drug trafficking ring has resulted in the arrests of eight individuals and the seizure of 353 kilograms of cocaine.
"Drug trafficking endangers the well-being of our families and neighborhoods, and protecting against the threat requires vigilant, aggressive law enforcement," said Lockyer. "This investigation is one victory in a continuing battle. But I hope our success sends a message to drug traffickers who want to operate in our state: We will continue to fight to keep our communities safe."
Special Agents with the state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement's (BNE) Border Interdiction Team in San Diego began the "Operation Micho" investigation in November 2005. They identified West Covina resident Steve Montes, 32, as the head of a large-scale cocaine distribution organization which used tractor trailer trucks to distribute cocaine from Los Angeles to Chicago, Illinois, and to the states of Indiana and New York. During the investigation, BNE agents discovered Montes used a residence in Moreno Valley to store large quantities of narcotics and cash.
"Operation Micho" resulted in the seizure of 353 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated $28 million, 657 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $466,000, more than $1.1 million in U.S. currency, six handguns, two tractor trailer trucks and several other vehicles.
Initiated in 1998, the mission of the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement's San Diego Border Interdiction Team (BIT) is to conduct investigations involving large-scale drug trafficking and smuggling of narcotics into California from Mexico.
Montes and the following seven individuals have been arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, and sale of cocaine. If convicted on all charges, Montes, as the leader of the ring, faces a maximum sentence of 43 years in state prison:
● Enjobul King, 33, Moreno Valley
● Derwin Webster, 32, Moreno Valley
● Augustin Alvarez, 21, Illinois
● Ivan Caro-Sanchez, 31, Illinois
● Jose Alfredo Felix, 38, Illinois
● Rufino T. Acevedo, 53, Washington
● Omar Cruz-Alvarez, 19, Washington
Agencies which assisted BNE in the investigation include: the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (LA IMPACT), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Dupage Sheriff's Office in Illinois.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will prosecute the cases.