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