Cased closed on 'Operation Apehanger'

SANTA BARBARA — The Aug. 17 sentencing of Alejandro Raya to eight years in state prison on three counts of possession of assault weapons and possession of controlled substances brings closure to what Santa Barbara County authorities dubbed “Operation Apehanger,” involving more than eight months of federal and local investigations.
In September 2009, according to Wednesday’s media statement by sheriff’s spokesman Drew Sugars, department officials and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms conducted simultaneous raids on seven Santa Barbara area residences.

During those searches, authorities recovered an AR-15 assault rifle, eight AK-47 fully automatic assault rifles, a 12-gauge shotgun, two Glock semi-auto handguns, and a custom-made fully automatic .45 caliber gun. Additional evidence seized during the raids included various parts for conversion of weapons into fully automatic operation, multiple boxes of ammunition, growing marijuana plants with a value in excess of $100,000, as well as assorted other illegal drugs including cocaine and methamphetamine.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Lee Carter, leading the prosecution of the seven defendants in the case — all of whom individually agreed to prior plea bargains as early as March, resulting in prison terms among them as high as 17 years — indicated that Raya’s guilty plea came as “no surprise considering the videotape we had of him selling weapons to undercover officers.”

In his statement to the media following last week’s sentencing by Judge Brian Hill, Carter summarized his department’s success in prosecuting Operation Apehanger’s defendants: “We took some bad guys off the street and protected the community.”

Judge Hill, after hearing Raya’s family members describe him as sober and drug-free for the first time in his life and eager to change his life, reiterated the evidence to which Raya pleaded guilt and without further consideration imposed sentence, finally closing the case.

Cased closed on 'Operation Apehanger' was last modified: August 24th, 2010 by admin
Categories: Santa Barbara