Po­lice ar­rest four men linked to ‘highly or­ga­nized’ drug ring

The Mercury News Weekend - - LOCAL NEWS - By Mark Gomez and Robert Sa­longa [email protected]­yare­anews­group.com and rsa­[email protected]­yare­anews­group.com Con­tact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869 and Robert Sa­longa at 408-920-5002.

SAN JOSE » Fol­low­ing a two-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion, po­lice have ar­rested four San Jose men sus­pected in a “highly or­ga­nized” transcon­ti­nen­tal drug- smug­gling oper­a­tion pos­ing as a phony South Bay elec­tron­ics com­pany to move mar­i­juana and as­sorted nar­cotics to the East Coast, au­thor­i­ties said.

The sus­pects, An­thony Le, 42, Barry Phan, 42, Jose Gar­cia, 41, and Ale­jan­dro Gar­cia, 35, all of San Jose, are sus­pected of man­u­fac­tur­ing and sell­ing nar­cotics through­out San Jose and the Bay Area, and trans­port­ing drugs to the south­ern and eastern United States, ac­cord­ing to San Jose po­lice.

The four men were ar­rested Nov. 28 and booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail on a va­ri­ety of charges, in­clud­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing and trans­port­ing of nar­cotics and pos­ses­sion of il­le­gal weapons, po­lice said.

Act­ing on an anony­mous tip, San Jose po­lice launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and con­tend the sus­pects cre­ated a shell cor­po­ra­tion mas­querad­ing as an elec­tron­ics com­pany to rent com­mer­cial space, which it con­verted into drug dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ters. Lt. Paul Messier said the sus­pects also used the guise to con­vince freight com­pa­nies to move the drugs and con­tra­band without scru­tiny.

Messier said the mar­i­juana they re­cov­ered was the re­sult of the sus­pects lev­er­ag­ing mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion in Cal­i­for­nia to profit in the East Coast where pot laws are more strin­gent.

“Mar­i­juana fetches 20 to 30 per­cent more in the East Coast,” Messier said. “They got a premium there and took ad­van­tage of the mar­ket. It was lu­cra­tive.”

The al­leged drug oper­a­tion was ac­tive for at least five years, Messier said. At its peak, he said, the group was net­ting over a $1 mil- lion in rev­enue and was spend­ing tens of thou­sands of dol­lars in freight costs.

“They were very cau­tious, and used var­i­ous tech­niques to avoid law en­force­ment de­tec­tion,” Messier said.

On Nov. 28, the San Jose po­lice de­part­ment de­ployed sev­eral of its di­vi­sions, in­clud­ing spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tions, MERGE, covert re­sponse, the vi­o­lent crimes en­force­ment team, Metro spe­cial oper­a­tions, in­ter­net crimes, K-9 and pa­trol to serve six search war­rants and four ar­rest war­rants in homes and in­dus­trial spa­ces in San Jose and Sun­ny­vale. San Jose po­lice were aided by the Sun­ny­vale De­part­ment of Pub­lic Safety, Santa Clara County Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, U. S. Postal In­spec­tors and the U.S. Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Dur­ing the raids, po­lice seized more than 800 pounds of mar­i­juana, a large amount of il­le­gal, an­abolic steroids, five ounces of con­cen­trated hash oil, pow­der co­caine, Xanax bars, Ec­stasy pills, three hand­guns and an ex­pended AT4 rocket launcher. Au­thor­i­ties also froze nu­mer­ous bank ac­counts and seized $600,000.

“That’s not some­thing any­body’s sup­posed to own,” Messier said of the rocket launcher.

San Jose po­lice iden­ti­fied ware­houses in four other states as be­ing con­nected to the drug ring and lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies worked in col­lab­o­ra­tion with San Jose po­lice. Messier iden­ti­fied Le as the re­puted ring­leader of the setup and said all of the sus­pects were long­time friends in San Jose.

Messier said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues and that more sus­pects are be­ing sought.

“This was a large crime net­work,” he said. “We’re work­ing with other law-en­force­ment part­ners to see what other charges can be brought.”





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