$9.3 Million in Cash & Drugs Seized in Major Cartel Drug Bust
Ventura – In an usually well-coordinated and professionally-staged press conference and media release published by Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Cpt. Don Aguilar, on August 26th at Department Headquarters, law enforcement representatives announced the apprehension of seven individuals, “including influential Mexican Mafia members” suspected of trafficking in “large quantities of narcotics from Mexico into Ventura County and other parts of the United States.”
According to Aguilar, the investigation leading to the arrests involved a year-long collaborative effort on the parts of multiple local and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, the Oxnard Police Department, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
Those arrested, include Michael Moreno, 57, of Fresno, Jose Rodriguez, 34 and Jaime Mora, 28, both of Los Angeles, Alejandro Ornelas, 32, Gerardo Reyes, 41, and Fidel Pina, all from Oxnard, as well as Henri Mejia, 27, of Hollywood. Acoording to Aguilar, these individuals were connected with drug smuggling operations controlled by the Mexican Mafia and the Sinaloa Cartel in “a vast network” that used the profits from their far-reaching drug sales to finance the purchase of weapons and support multiple criminal activities.
Pursuant to the arrests of these seven suspects—taking place over the past several months but announced only this week–authorities seized drugs with a street value in excess of $5,000,000 and cash totaling approximately $4,375,000, as well as “35 firearms, 69 pounds of methamphetamine, 52 pounds of cocaine, 3 pounds of tar heroin, and 28 pounds of “China White” heroin.
For his part, Jaime Mora holds the distinction of having the highest bail amount of the group, at $5,000,000, with several of his collaborators enjoying their bargain-basement bail set at only $1,000,000.
Assistant Ventura County Sheriff Gary Pentis, holding forth with microphone in hand as he described the complexities of the investigation and ongoing arrests, referred to other members of the illicit operation with the promise that “They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to prison. We’re not going to tolerate street-level organized crime.”
Photos: Courtesy Ventura County Sheriff
Thousand Oaks Acorn: Task force takes bite out of Mexican cartel
Citizens Journal: Seven Alleged members of ring indicted