Los Angeles Times

1 million fentanyl pills seized in sting

- By Richard Winton

A Los Angeles regional drug task force seized 1 million fentanyl pills and arrested three Mexican nationals during a sting operation last week after a confidenti­al informant working with the task force brokered a deal for a massive buy, according to court records.

The three men from Sinaloa, Mexico, were charged by federal prosecutor­s with one count each of possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute.

Florencio Camacho Allan, 28; Gerardo GaixolaPat­ino, 29; and Alex Valdez Oroz, 25, are being held in a Los Angeles detention facility after making an appearance Thursday in U.S. District Court downtown.

The men allegedly met with two buyers at a Denny’s restaurant in El Segundo on Tuesday to discuss a 10,000fentany­l pill “sample sale,” which would be followed by a deal for 1 million fentanyl pills. The buyers, however, were an informant who has worked with the government since 2014 and an undercover Hawthorne police officer working as part of the federal and local drug task force, authoritie­s said.

The sting operation was conducted by agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcemen­t Administra­tion, the Hawthorne Police Department, the Fullerton Police Department, the El Monte Police Department and the California

National Guard.

During the meeting, which was monitored by investigat­ors, Allan and Gaixola-Patino met with the buyers while Oroz remained in their car, a white Volkswagen Jetta, according to an affidavit by Hawthorne Police Det. Erick Peraza, a member of the task force.

After the meeting, Allan and Gaixola-Patino went to the parking lot where they allegedly sold 10,000 fentanyl pills to the buyers for $7,500, according to court records. They then left the restaurant under the surveillan­ce of law enforcemen­t, according to the affidavit written by the Hawthorne police detective.

Allan allegedly confirmed that his group was interested in doing a 1-millionpil­l deal later that day and showed one of the buyers the Jetta’s trunk full of pills via a WhatsApp video call, according to the the affidavit.

Investigat­ors on Wednesday morning conducted ground and aerial surveillan­ce on the Jetta as they arranged a buy of the pills.

Investigat­ors then moved in to arrest the three men at an El Monte Holiday Inn and seize the pills in the Jetta.

Oroz was detained without incident in the parking lot. Allan and GaixolaPat­ino tried to run away, only to be caught and subdued by law enforcemen­t officers, authoritie­s said.

If convicted, each defendant would face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison.

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