Archive for June, 2011

Lompoc – Police have arrested two men in a drug bust Thursday afternoon.

It happened around 3 p.m. in the 1700 block of E. Ocean Ave.

Oman Hernandez, 28, of Rialto, and Mario Salas, 35, of Pomona, were arrested for possession for sales of methamphetamine and transportation of methamphetamine.

According to police, Hernandez and Salas possessed over three pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of $136,800.

A residence in Rialto and a residence in Pomona were also searched. Police found an additional pound of methamphetamine from the residence in Pomona with a street value of $45,600.

A small quantity of methamphetamine and cash were also seized from the Rialto residence.–124515029.html

PANAMA CITY — More than a dozen people are named in a federal indictment that alleges a conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

The 12-page indictment, which was unsealed Thursday, charges 15 people with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, methamphetamine. Several members of the alleged conspiracy also are charged with other crimes, including selling meth, unlawfully transporting firearms and re-entering the country after being deported.

A 42-page affidavit filed by Special Agent Michael Clear with the Drug Enforcement Administration details a lengthy investigation that relied on confidential informants, wiretaps, ground and aerial surveillance, and GPS tracking.

According to the affidavit, Lee Parker Bussey was acting as a local distributor for a drug organization operated out of South Carolina and Georgia and controlled by Jesus Cadenas-Baez, who supplied quantities of meth to Rufino Robelo-Galo.

Couriers working for Robelo-Galo in Atlanta delivered 1 to 2 pounds of meth each week for about 18 months to Bussey in Marianna, according to a confidential informant familiar with Bussey’s organization. Frank Eben Gullett Jr., Jack Allen Kelly and Mary Ann Brewer are charged with distributing meth for Bussey.

Law enforcement stopped Robelo-Galo in Phenix City, Ala., on May 15 and pulled $60,000 cash from a concealed compartment in the wheel well of the Nissan Altima he was driving, investigators reported. Less than a week later, he was arrested when agents raided a suspected stash house on a warrant and found 6 pounds of meth, several ounces of marijuana and about $30,000 in secret compartments in two vehicles located at the property, according to federal authorities.

Robelo-Galo and Nestor Jose Hernandez-Estrada, whom investigators said they believe has been a courier for the ring, were arrested during the raid on the stash house. Bussey, Gullett, Kelly, Brewer, Cora Rebecca Stone, Rowdy Dewayne Gilbert, Christopher Gullett and Bobby Jene Kent were all arrested on warrants shortly thereafter.

Also named in the indictment are Soul Barragon, Ricardo Heredia Barron, Octavio Gonzalez-Flores and Juan Jose Cadenas-Baez.

Twelve of the defendants are currently in custody and will be arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

A longtime drug-trafficking ring linking Tulare and Santa Barbara counties was broken up Wednesday after five warrants were served in both areas, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department announced Friday.

The 42-year-old ringleader has homes in both counties and for years has traveled from Earlimart to deliver heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine in Santa Barbara County. He was arrested at a home in Santa Barbara, and nearly eight ounces of drugs were seized along with about $6,000 in cash.

A 37-year-old man described as a co-conspirator was taken into custody on the 800 block of East Terra Bella Way in Pixley.

Nearly nine ounces of cocaine, three ounces of heroin, an ounce of methamphetamine, a handgun and $45,000 in cash were confiscated at a home he was associated with on the 900 block of Olive Road in Earlimart.

Another 37-year-old man was arrested on the 13000 block of Avenue 80 in Earlimart, where deputies found 2.6 pounds of cocaine, 15 pounds of processed marijuana, four firearms and $11,000 in cash.

A 40-year-old woman deputies say was connected to the operation was arrested at another home on the 800 block of Olive Road in Earlimart. All were booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail.

A 35-year-old man remained at large.

Meth probe nets 3 arrests

Posted: June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

WILKES-BARRE – Making and selling methamphetamine was no big deal to Glen Kocher, authorities said, but it was to police who searched his house on Blackman Street, three other residences and a car to shut down his alleged illegal operation.

The 48-year-old, self-employed mason, his wife, Donna, and his girlfriend, Amanda Adamski, were arrested as part of an investigation into the sale and manufacture of the drug.

“We did some,” he said after his arraignment on charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver or delivery of a controlled substance.

“They’re making more out of it than it really is,” he added. “It’s an election year.”

Deputy Attorney General Tim Doherty disagreed.

“It’s big in the sense that where it leads,” he said. “It has the potential, again, of making a lot of money.”

Doherty said agents of the Attorney General’s Office converged on three houses in the city shortly before 7 a.m.

With heavy rain falling, city police shut down traffic as armed agents wearing body armor executed search warrants at 18 Spruce St., directly across from the Spruce Street Playground, and a double-block house at 356-358 Blackman St. just before 7 a.m.

A utility truck with a retractable canopy parked in front of the Blackman Street house. A table was set up under the canopy as agents brought out chemicals from the house suspected of being used in the making of methamphetamine.

The same process was repeated at houses on Spruce and Regent streets.

As a result of those searches, agents obtained additional search warrants for a house on Buck Creek Road in Bear Creek Township and a car parked on Blackman Street.

The search warrants and the affidavits to support the searches were filed under seal in Luzerne County Court.

Doherty said that during the course of the searches, “we were able to locate not only methamphetamine itself, but more importantly the manufacturing equipment, the raw materials, the packaging materials, the cooking instruments.”

At all the locations searched, agents “located instruments” used to make methamphetamine, said Doherty.

The husband and wife allegedly had methamphetamine on them when they were arrested. They said it came from a batch he made the previous night at a clandestine laboratory, according to the affidavit filed to support their arrests.

Donna Kocher, 52, told agents her husband had given her some of the methamphetamine, said Doherty. She kept half and sold the rest, he said.

The Kochers face identical charges and were committed to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $100,000 bail each.

While waiting to be arraigned before District Judge Paul Roberts Jr. in Kingston, a handcuffed Donna Kocher leaned toward her husband who also was handcuffed and sitting nearby and said, “This is what happens when you cheat on your wife. It’s karma. I hope it was worth it.”

He did not respond to her.

Agents said Glen Kocher had been living with Adamski, 28, at the Spruce Street house, a few blocks from Kocher’s Blackman Street house.

Agents found a small amount of marijuana, rolling papers, a pipe and a “roach clip” in a bedroom at the Spruce Street house, according to the arrest affidavit filed against Adamski.

“They found other things too that were taken to be analyzed,” said Doherty.

Adamski, who has no permanent address, was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was committed to the county prison for lack of $10,000 bail.

Doherty said she faces additional charges of resisting arrest and tampering with evidence after a struggle with an agent at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, where Adamski tried to swallow pills. Adamski was taken to the hospital for an undisclosed ailment. She appeared at the arraignment wearing a hospital gown, scrub pants and socks.

The investigation developed out of complaints from neighbors, said Doherty.

“They called Wilkes-Barre police and we have a very active task force and Wilkes-Barre is very active,” he said.

Doherty said the Kocher operation was not related to the investigation of a fatal shooting of a man in February inside a trailer in Hunlock Township suspected of being a methamphetamine lab.

Depending upon where the Kocher investigation leads, there could be additional arrests, said Doherty.

He added it is up the city to decide whether to take action on the houses searched by agents.

“Once police hit a house, then the inspectors go out,” said Doherty.

YAKIMA, Wash. — A 35-year-old Mexican national who had been living in Pasco was sentenced in federal court Thursday to more than 17 years in prison for trying to sell methamphetamine.

Gerardo Sanchez-Ramirez was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Yakima to 210 months, or 17 1/2 years, after Tri-Cities drug investigators found nearly five pounds of methamphetamine in his Pasco home in February, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District office in Spokane.

A conviction for possessing more than 50 grams of meth with the intent to distribute carries a sentencing range between 10 years and life in prison, the release said.

After serving his sentence, the Sanchez-Ramirez will be deported and barred from re-entering the United States without permission from the U.S. Attorney General, the release said.

STOCKTON – A murder trial began Thursday for two of three people charged with shooting, stabbing and beating a man before lighting him on fire in a Stockton home last year.

Graphic photos and gruesome descriptions of torture that 49-year-old Jeffrey Wheatley suffered proved unsettling in court. A relative of the victim could be heard crying in the rear of the courtroom.

San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Mark Ott’s voice quivered in his opening statement as he described the excruciating death Wheatley experienced on April 7, 2010.

“He was subjected to the highest levels of pain and suffering any human could endure,” Ott told jurors inside the San Joaquin County Superior Courtroom.

On trial are 26-year-old Valerie Nessler, who was a roommate of the victim, and 33-year-old Robert Turner. A third defendant, Allen Periman, 31, will be tried later.

According to the prosecution, Nessler had heard Wheatley brag of killing a man in 1994 with a gun. That crime, as he described it, resembled the way Turner said his own brother had died, Ott said.

Yet, Ott added that the accused killers didn’t have the facts correct. Turner’s brother died of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot, something Turner and his family never could accept.

Nessler told Turner about her roommate’s story of killing a man, and then she set him up to be killed, the prosecutor said.

On the day of his death, Turner and Periman kicked in the door to the home in the 8300 block of Sussex Way, Ott said.

Turner shot Wheatley twice with a shotgun, the prosecutor said, adding that Nessler and Periman next stabbed him 30 times, and they doused him with gasoline.

Wheatley was able to get up and stumble to the front door before falling. That’s where Ott said the trio lit him on fire, engulfing the entire home. When Stockton firefighters arrived, they found the body inside, launching a murder investigation that led to the three defendants.

Turner’s attorney, Deborah Fialkowski, told Judge Edward Lacy that she would give her opening statement to jurors later in the trial.

Nessler’s attorney, John Panerio, said his client admits that she was there. In a video of her statement to detectives, Nessler admitted to once stabbing at Wheatley, but only because Turner ordered her to do it.

“Any aiding and abetting she did in this murder, she did out of fear,” Panerio said. “She was terrified.”

Panerio, who said the residents of the home were using methamphetamine, asked jurors to focus on the big picture. The prosecution will not meet the burden of proof, Panerio said.

LAMONT, Calif. — The Kern County Sheriff’s Department said that deputies have arrested two men with 450 grams of crystal methamphetamine.
Deputies said that on Tuesday around 3:40 p.m., they performed a traffic stop on a vehicle in the area of East Pacheco Road and Cottonwood Road.
Deputies said they discovered inside the vehicle 450 grams of crystal methamphetamine. The crystal methamphetamine has an approximate street value of $45,000, deputies said.

Oswaldo Heredia, 26, was arrested on charges of possession for sales of a controlled substance, transportation of a controlled substance, providing false information to a peace officer, driving without a license and two outstanding felony warrants.
Pedro Heredia, 22, was arrested on charges of providing false information to a peace officer and two outstanding felony warrants.
Both Pedro and Oswaldo Heredia were booked into the Sheriff’s Office Central Receiving Facility.

MODESTO — When you get in a car accident and the other person involved gets angry to the point of a physical confrontation, what do you do?

The 19-year-old Modesto man who accidentally rear-ended a pickup on Claus Road late Tuesday night did the right thing by getting into his car, police said.

“His first reaction was a smart reaction,” said Lt. Rick Armendariz of the Modesto Police Department. “Instead of engaging in an argument with the person, step away or, in this situation, get in your vehicle and distance yourself.”

Unfortunately for the man, the pickup driver pulled out a gun and gave chase in his vehicle, eventually tracking down the man and shooting him in the back. Armendariz also said that the suspect shot at a female companion who was with the victim. She was not injured.

The pickup driver, Victor Ramirez, 20, of Modesto, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of attempted murder. He was taken into custody without incident at a home in the 2800 block of Andalusia Way in east Modesto.

The victim, who was treated and released from a local hospital, saw the suspect in the neighborhood Wednesday afternoon. He told Central Valley TV that his two friends got a license plate and followed him to the house on Andalusia.

The victim then called police, who surrounded the house and eventually took Ramirez into custody without incident as he exited the home.

The owner of the home, Richard Garcia, 30, arrived home soon after and gave police permission to search the residence for other possible suspects.

Inside, police found 30 marijuana plants, methamphetamine and a gun that turned out to be stolen.

Garcia was arrested and charged with marijuana cultivation, possession of meth and a stolen gun, as well as being a felon in possession of a stolen gun.

Armendariz said the gun was not the same one used in the shooting. He said Garcia and Ramirez were acquaintances.

“I thought I was going to die,” the victim told Central Valley TV. “I’ve never been shot at before … never gave anyone a reason to shoot at me. I don’t even have a gun. I’ve never thought to shoot anyone else.

“I guess people think differently.”

In addition to trying to leave the scene, Armendariz said it’s best in those situations to stay on busy streets and try to bring attention to yourself.

“Honk your horn, drive to somewhere public, a shopping center … call 911 on your cell phone,” he said, adding that in the late night or early morning hours, head to a main thoroughfare. “We wouldn’t recommend going into a residential neighborhood and going, 30, 40, or 50 miles per hour.”

Investigators determined methamphetamine toxicity to be the cause of death for the 23-year-old Rapid City man who was found in May in Rapid Creek.

A Sioux Park passer-by found Spencer Pitcher’s body on May 1 in about 1 foot of water in the creek near Dakota Drive and Canyon Lake Drive, according to a news release from the Rapid City Police Department and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

The autopsy, scene investigation and toxicology reports determined the main cause of death, but investigators said the creek may have been a contributing cause, according to law enforcement.

Foul play was not a factor in Pitcher’s death, the sheriff’s office said.

BAYOU GEORGE, Fla. — A Panhandle man who police say texted his mother to help clean up and hide drug evidence for him is being held in jail on drug charges.

Bay County investigators arrested 33-year-old Anthony Paul Burdeshaw Wednesday. He has no attorney listed. Jail records show he was being held Thursday on charges of methamphetamine possession.

Investigators say they were talking to Burdeshaw’s mother about an abandoned barn next to the family’s home that contained methamphetamine-manufacturing chemicals when she received a text from her son. The text asked the woman to clean his bedroom, hide any evidence of drugs and to not allow the police to search his room. The mother brought out to police a glass bowl which tested positive for drugs.

The investigation is ongoing. Additional charges are pending.

A well-known Alpharetta horse trainer already facing attempted child molestation charges is now accused of driving naked while smoking meth.

Forsyth County deputies arrested Kenneth Acebal, 46, on June 8 after a truck driver called investigators to report he’d seen a naked man in a Cadillac SUV driving on State Route 19 near Cumming.

An arrest report said that Acebal was fully clothed when deputies pulled him over, but that they noticed his pants were “twisted.” The report said deputies found pornographic magazines sprawled out in the car and a pipe with methamphetamine residue in it.

He was charged with meth possession and indecent exposure and booked into the Forsyth County Jail. A sheriff’s department spokeswoman told Channel 2 that Acebal bonded out of jail June 18.

Channel 2 tracked down Acebal’s business manager, Ann Clements, who called Acebal a decorated horse trainer who was once on the short list to compete in the Olympics.

“He enjoys the respect and admiration of trainers, riders and owners at the highest level of the equestrian competitive game,” she said.

Clements said Acebal has been under tremendous stress since an April arrest in Catoosa County on attempted child molestation charges. The FBI arrested Acebal and two other metro Atlanta-area men, accusing them of chatting online with an agent posing as a child and then driving to Ringgold to meet for sex.

“He was charged with what the FBI themselves have called a victimless crime,” said Clements. “The stress was horrendous. It’s the first time he’d been in any legal kind of trouble like that.”

Clements said Acebal believed he was meeting an adult, not a child.

She said he has entered rehab and expects to be fully exonerated in both cases.

Arson suspect Robert Boyce appeared in Washington County Court today for formal arraignment.

Boyce appeared with his attorney, Jim Conatser, to plead “not guilty” to charges of two counts of second degree arson, manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance (methamphetamine), conspiracy to manufacture a controlled dangerous substance (methamphetamine), unlawfully concealing hazardous waste, false claim for insurance and second degree conspiracy to commit arson.

A date of Aug. 3 was set for a jury docket in anticipation of a jury trial.

Boyce was previously bound over on all charges stemming from the alleged 2009 arson of a downtown Bartlesville building at the continuation of his preliminary hearing in late April.

The charges stem from a fire that destroyed the historic former May Brothers building in downtown Bartlesville in August 2009.

Boyce remains in the Washington County Jail on $500,000 bond.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Indictments were returned Wednesday against 40 people who face charges related to the possession and distribution of methamphetamine and other drugs.

Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien said the investigation led to the seizure of more than five pounds of crystal meth with a value of more than $225,000 — the largest amount of the drug ever seized in Franklin County, 10TV’s Chuck Strickler reported.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 26 of the 40 suspects had been taken into custody.

“There is no particular neighborhood; it’s all over Columbus,” said Columbus police Lt. Larry Yates. “We have tried 60 to 70 addresses and we’ve gotten well over half our suspects.”

The indictments and apprehensions came after an investigation that started more than a year ago. Yates said that Columbus was used as a base for the distribution of meth to other locations in central Ohio.

“We have a total of eight counties involved, where suspects lived (and) would come to Columbus to get the meth or deliver meth, and then go back to their counties,” he said.

Aside from meth, investigators said they seized cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and marijuana, along with more than $100,000 in cash and 15 firearms, Strickler reported.

They also recovered seven gallons of a chemical that is used to make GHB, which is known more commonly as the “date rape” drug.

“Hopefully it will make an impact,” O’Brien said. “Unfortunately, when you arrest 40 people like this, there are too often someone standing behind them, ready to step up and take their place.”

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – Bond was set Wednesday for three Bartlesville residents arrested after drug task force officials raided their home near Ranch Heights Elementary School and found an alleged methamphetamine cooking operation.

William Anthony Allred, 60, faces charges of manufacturing methamphetamine within 2,000 feet of a school, maintaining a residence where drugs are kept, used or sold, possession of a firearm while in commission of a felony and possession of a firearm after a former conviction.

During his appearance in Washington County District Court on Wednesday, the judge set his bond to $750,000.

George Thomas Ishem III, 53, faces charges of manufacturing methamphetamine within 2,000 feet of a school. His bond was set to $500,000.

Shawnda Kay Jackson, 41, faces charges of manufacturing methamphetamine within 2,000 feet of a school and maintaining a residence where drugs are kept, used or sold. The judge set her bond to $500,000.

According to the probable cause affidavit, at around 7 p.m. Tuesday, officials with the 11the Judicial District Drug Task Force served a search warrant on a residence on the 1400 block of S.E. Lakeview Ct.

Officials spoke to Allred who told them both Ishem and Jackson both reside with him at that address but in the northeastern bedroom.

Furthermore, he said officers would not find any methamphetamine in the house, according to the report.

One officer though entering the garage found a number of items indicative of methamphetamine cooking via the “one-pot” or “shake and bake” method. Among those items were a can of camping fuel, stripped lithium batteries, cold packs, drain cleaner and empty pseudoephedrine blister packs. Also located in the garage was a syringe with contents that field tested for methamphetamine.

When officials confronted Allred, Ishem and Jackson —by then all detained in the home’s dining room — about the findings in the garage, Allred told them he knew nothing about a meth lab adding that he was not a cook, just a meth user, said the affidavit.

After being placed under arrest and while being walked out to a patrol car, Allred then reportedly told officers Jackson was the cook.

Officers then searched both bedrooms on the north end of the house and found in the northeast room a digital scale, among other items, and in the northwest room, a .22 caliber rifle, two boxes of .22 caliber ammunition, a leather pistol case containing a magazine and .40 caliber ammunition.

Later as officers booked Allred at the Washington County jail, Allred reportedly cursed at an investigators and threatened him, telling him he knew where he lived and that he will put a bullet in between the eyes of the investigator when he gets out of jail.’ville-residents-arrested-on-meth-charges

Hector Rivera had been on the run for more than three years. But the hunt for the 35-year-old man, suspected of trafficking and distributing methamphetamine in Pennsylvania, ended Friday, June 17 at the Mexico Lindo restaurant in Brick.

The popular Mexican restaurant, situated in the middle of a jug-handle on Burnt Tavern Road, was where U.S. marshals from Pennsylvania and New Jersey finally caught Rivera, who was indicted April 8, 2008, by a federal grand jury on charges of distribution and possession with intent to distribute in excess of 500 grams of methamphetamine and use of a telephone to facilitate the commission of criminal acts, according to Martin J. Pane, acting U.S. marshal for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Rivera was indicted along with his brother, Juan Rivera, for his alleged role in a methamphetamine trafficking ring operating in Schuylkill County, Pa. The indictment charged that the Rivera brothers obtained methamphetamine from suppliers in Las Vegas, brought it to Schuylkill County and elsewhere in Pennsylvania, and then distributed it numerous locations. The Rivera brothers were also charged with using cellular telephones to maintain contact with their co-conspirators and customers.

Shortly after the April 2008 federal indictment, Juan Rivera was arrested in Berks County, Pa., but Hector Rivera’s whereabouts were unknown, and he was declared a fugitive. On April 14, 2008, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration delegated apprehension responsibility to the United States Marshals Service.

The Marshals Service developed leads over 38 months, according to Pane, and last Friday marshals from Scranton, Pa., teamed up with their New Jersey counterparts to follow up on a lead at the Jersey Shore. Around 1 p.m., they caught up to Rivera at Mexico Lindo and arrested him. Federal officials did not say why Rivera was at the restaurant at the time.

“Although Rivera was on the run for three years, the U.S. Marshals Service never slowed in their pursuit,” Pane said. “Fugitives must know they can run, but they cannot hide. We will ensure they are ultimately brought to justice.”

Hector Rivera is currently being held in New Jersey pending federal court proceedings, Pane said.

As for his brother, Juan Rivera pleaded guilty in federal court in October 2008 to all of the charges leveled against him. In June 2010, he was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik to serve 188 months – just under 16 years – in a federal prison.

An Inver Grove Heights man is facing felony drug-trafficking charges after authorities seized almost 60 grams of methamphetamine from his home last week.

Jose Osbaldo Medina-Martinez, 22, faces two counts of first-degree drug trafficking, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

According to the criminal complaint, Dakota County Drug Task Force agents got a call in May from someone who reported a man named Jose dealing methamphetamine from his home.

Agents went to the home last Friday and spoke to two adults who lived there and said they knew nothing about drugs being sold, the complaint says. The two consented to a search of the home and their bedrooms, and agents found a large amount of cash in a dresser drawer in one of the bedrooms, according to the complaint.

Agents then sought and received a search warrant and returned to the home later that day to continue their search. Among the items recovered during that search were two plastic bags containing methamphetamine; a digital scale; a Mexican identification card for Medina-Martinez; and cash in a diaper in a dresser drawer, in a purse and on top of a speaker in one of the bedrooms.

Agents subsequently tested the methamphetamine and determined that it totaled 57.24 grams, or more than 2 ounces. The cash totaled $16,944.

Inver Grove Heights police arrested Medina-Martinez later that day and questioned him at the Dakota County Jail. Police say he initially denied knowing anything about the drugs or money in his bedroom, but eventually admitted that he was selling methamphetamine, buying it for $800 an ounce and reselling it for $1,000 an ounce, according to the complaint.

Medina-Martinez told police that he had been selling methamphetamine for about four months, the complaint says. He said he and one of the other residents of the home are in the country illegally, but told police that the other man knew nothing about the drug trafficking and wasn’t involved in it.

Medina-Martinez remains in the Dakota County Jail in Hastings on a $60,000 bond. He is also being held for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for possible deportation.

LOS ANGELES—Members of Ventura and Santa Barbara county gangs have been sentenced to lengthy federal prison terms for methamphetamine trafficking.
U.S. District Court spokesman Thom Mrozek says 24-year-old David Michael Jiminez of Carpinteria was sentenced Monday to more than 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy charge.

A federal judge also sentenced 37-year-old Juan Duran Rivas and 35-year-old Jose Anthony Rivas, brothers who led Oxnard gangs, to 10 years each after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy and distribution of methamphetamine.

Mrozek says the trio was snared during Operation Peaceworks, a collaboration between the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Oxnard Police Department and the California Governor’s Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention Office.

KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Officers in Kosciusko County arrested five people in two separate incidents Monday afternoon in Warsaw. The suspects face various charges related to methamphetamine.

Around 3:30 p.m., Kosciusko County Drug Task Officers received information of a possible driver under the influence of drugs in the area of U.S. 30 and Old Road 30. Officers located the suspected vehicle near U.S. 30 and County Road 250 East and conducted a stop after viewing a traffic infraction.

After a Warsaw K-9 unit detected the odor of methamphetamine, officers searched the vehicle and found finished methamphetamine, meth precursors, and a small amount of marijuana.

Police arrested Trevor Lee Smith, 39, of Warsaw, and Michelle Lee Hoover, 42, of Syracuse. Both are preliminarily charged with felony possession of methamphetamine and meth precursors.

At almost the same time, officers from the Warsaw Police Department were advised of three people at Lewis Salvage in Warsaw who were trying to sell a possible stolen radiator from Marshall County. Also in that case, K-9 units detected the odor of methamphetamine in the vehicle. Police arrested rrested Danny Ray Clark, 18, of Warsaw, Megan Lynette Jamison, 25, of Rochester, and an unnamed juvenile. They face preliminary charges of possession of methamphetamine, meth precursors, and paraphernalia.

This is the sort of crime that meth can lead to – more often than you think …

A northeast Salem man was sentenced Monday to more than 16 years in prison for giving a teenage girl drugs, taking pornographic images and raping her.

Shawn Clinton Dixon, 30, pleaded guilty to charges including third-degree rape, second-degree sexual abuse, delivery of methamphetamine to a minor and using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct.

Dixon walked into Marion County Circuit Judge Pamela Abernethy’s courtroom in a jail uniform and chains, nodding toward four women sitting in the front row. They declined to comment after the sentencing hearing.

No one representing the victim attended the sentencing.

“Mr. Dixon made a mistake,” Albino Vela, Dixon’s attorney, said in court. “He was doing so partly through immaturity and partly through use of drugs at the time that affected him.”

At the time of his arrest in February, police said Dixon gave the girl meth and showed her pornography to overcome her objections to sexual acts. Her parents called Marion County Sheriff’s Office and reported the crimes that occurred between August and February.

Abernethy asked Dixon to describe the conduct behind each charge he was pleading guilty to, in his own words. Dixon spoke softly and at times sounded choked up.

He said the girl, who was 14 at the time, asked for meth.

“She came over to my house and we smoked meth,” Dixon said. “She asked to smoke; she told me she’d smoked before.”

He also said he couldn’t remember filming or taking pictures of sexual acts involving the girl. When asked about the conduct behind the rape charges, Dixon blamed drug use.

“(The girl) had a crush on me,” Dixon told the judge. “I didn’t go after her. She caught me at a very bad time in my life, and I was intoxicated. She came on to me extremely strong.”

Abernethy scolded the man for minimizing his own conduct.

“You keep blaming her,” Abernethy said. “Tell it to me straight.”

Dixon admitted having sex with the girl on multiple occasions.

Abernethy handed down the sentence and told Dixon that she hoped he could get help for his substance-abuse problems.

They are no better than the Islamic terrorists!

Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), more commonly known as drug traffickers or cartels, sure know how to act like terrorists. They’re cutting off people’s heads all over Mexico and hanging the decapitated corpses from bridges in plain view. They’re assassinating mayors, and kidnapping state governors who don’t want to play by the TCOs’ rules. They’re conducting massacres of innocent Mexicans riding public buses, then burying them in mass graves across northern Mexico.

Yet, these cruel and psychopathic thugs are considered mere criminals by both the US and Mexican governments.

In March 2011, US Representative Michael McCaul, R-Texas, introduced legislation that, if passed, would designate six Mexican TCOs as “foreign terrorist organizations.” McCaul said the TCOs are “using similar tactics to gain political and economic influence,” relying on “kidnappings, political assassinations, attacks on civilian and military targets, taking over cities and even putting up checkpoints in order to control territory and institutions.”

On April 7, 2011, the Dallas Morning News published an editorial supporting McCaul’s position.

“When drug cartel thugs order mass kidnappings, explode bombs, murder scores of public officials, behead victims or hang them from overpasses and post signs in border-area cities warning of more violence if they don’t get their way, that’s not mere drug trafficking. That’s terrorism,” the editorial stated.

Making this legal designation would open up new and interesting options for battling the TCOs on both sides of the border. Funding for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies working along the southwest border would open up. Programs for going after TCO funding and money laundering operations would increase. Tactics for going head-to-head with TCO members in the streets of Mexico might improve.

However, there are several important issues that would preclude either government from making such a drastic change in policy, and they’re not to be taken lightly.

First is the fact that the TCOs have no overt political, religious or ideological motivation for doing what they do; the violence is driven purely by the pursuit of monetary profit. This requirement is one of the common denominators of the various definitions of terrorism used by the US government.

Of course, an argument can be made that TCOs are killing politicians and coercing others under penalty of death to comply with their wishes, and that this is a form of government/political manipulation. However, this shouldn’t be confused with political ideology, as TCOs seek to manipulate the government only to facilitate their illegal activities, not actually take over the government.

Second, there’s the business of having thousands of Mexican terrorists and their contracted employees – gang members, straw purchasers, etc. – crawling all over Mexico and the United States. This is nothing new; members of Hezbollah have had a considerable presence in the United States for some time. They sell fake purses and fake cigarettes to raise money in order to fund their violent activities in the Middle East.

But Hezbollah in the United States has nowhere near the presence or reach of Mexican TCOs. What would it mean to, all of a sudden, have Mexican terrorists using our expansive highway network to transport drugs? Or renting homes in our middle-class neighborhoods to hold kidnapping-for-ransom victims? Or walking into a US gun shop to buy guns for use in terrorist operations?

Then the US government and law enforcement agencies would have to examine TCO support networks in the United States. Would US-based gang members who sell Mexican-origin drugs be prosecuted for supporting terrorism? What kind of scrutiny would millions of Mexican-Americans living in the United States start to face for their potential connections to these newly-designated terrorists?

The Mexican government hasn’t completely shied away from this concept. In 2010, the Mexican legislature passed a law that allowed for the treatment of TCOs as terrorists under certain circumstances, mostly for the purpose of increasing the duration of prison terms. However, in a justice system where only two percent of criminal cases are ever successfully prosecuted, this legislation has been largely meaningless.

Such a designation by the US government would also foster a whole host of political and diplomatic problems with the Mexican government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was publicly reprimanded for her use of the term “insurgency” when referring to Mexican TCOs and the drug war, largely over fear of how the Mexican government would react to such nomenclature. Mexico is already having a difficult time trying to put on a brave face for the international community, sending the message that President Felipe Calderón is winning the war against these criminals.

How would it appear to the world if Mexico became embroiled in a decidedly losing battle with six different terrorist groups, equated in theory to the likes of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah?

That is yet another issue regarding the legal consideration of TCOs as terrorists. Is it right to equate drug-dealing, kidnapping and extorting thugs to religious zealots who brought down the Twin Towers and have killed tens of thousands across the globe in the name of Allah?

Islamic terrorists commit a whole host of crimes, and many are involved in the drug trade as a way to raise money for their jihad. But putting TCOs and Islamic fundamentalists in the same bucket seems to take something away from the significance of acts like the attack on the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983, or the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996.

Mexican TCOs have definitely moved beyond the label of mere criminals. They exhibit several aspects of terrorist groups, insurgencies throughout history and organized crime groups. A renaming at the federal government level is definitely in order because it could definitely result in more effective strategies and resource allocation to combat them.

And he was having a Tupperware party with 23 POUNDS of meth …

AUSTELL — An Austell man is charged with possessing 211 pounds of cocaine and 23 pounds of methamphetamine in the attic of his home on Allegiance Avenue off Brookwood Drive in Austell.

According to jail records, Edgar Cruz, 26, was arrested Wednesday and charged with trafficking more than 28 grams, trafficking methamphetamine and possession of a weapon while committing a crime, all felony charges.

Cruz’s arrest warrant states that the cocaine and meth were packaged in ways that indicated drug trafficking.

“(Cruz) did possess approximately 211 pounds of suspected cocaine,” the warrant said. “The suspected cocaine was packaged in numerous kilogram blocks, heavily wrapped and marked with individual numbers, consistent with drug trafficking … (Cruz) did possess approximately 23 pounds of suspected methamphetamine; the suspected methamphetamine was packaged in various Tupperware containers wrapped in cellophane, consistent with drug trafficking.”

The warrant went on to say that police also found a Colt .45-caliber handgun underneath a sofa cushion “readily available for use.”

According to jail records, Cruz was arrested around 6 p.m. Wednesday at Grady Medical Center in Atlanta.

Earlier in the day, a man was shot in an apparent robbery attempt on Allegiance Avenue, Cobb Police Spokesman Officer Mike Bowman said. However, Bowman would neither confirm nor deny if the robbery had anything to do with Cruz’s arrest.

Cruz was booked into Cobb Jail on Thursday and remains there on an ICE hold, according to jail records.–?instance=secondary_story_left_column

And some of them were citizens of Mexico. I wonder if there is a connection …

Fourteen people have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a drug trafficking conspiracy and for illegally possessing firearms, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The federal indictment is the result of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation into a multi-state methamphetamine-trafficking organization. The drug-trafficking organization allegedly distributed large quantities of methamphetamine in southwest Missouri and elsewhere.

The indictment returned by a jury on June 14 in Springfield was unsealed today upon the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants.

Ricky Del Prigg, 54, Dennis R. Reid, 53, and Hector Ferrer-Chavez, 55, a citizen of Mexico, all of Joplin; Donald D. Simonds, Jr., 37, Timothy L. Kent, 49, and Lori Kent, 49, all of Carthage; Darrell Thomason, 42, of Jasper; Harold E. Holland, 40, of Sarcoxie; Tony Raley, 41, of Wentworth; Noel Reyes-Garcia, 41, a citizen of Mexico living in Arkansas; Iris Leticia Correa, 40, a citizen of Mexico living in Garland, Texas; Gerardo Antonio Garcia, a citizen of Mexico, and Jefferson White, 44, both of Springdale, Ark.; and Lyndsey M. Johnson, 32, of Rogers, Ark.; were charged in a 26-count indictment.

The indictment alleges that all of the defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine in Jasper County, and elsewhere from May 2010 to Jan. 25, 2011.

In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, Prigg is charged with participating in a money-laundering conspiracy. The indictment alleges Prigg conducted financial transactions that involved the proceeds of illegal drug trafficking. Prigg is also charged with six counts of distributing methamphetamine in Jasper County.

Ferrer-Chavez is also charged with one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute in Jasper County, and one count of illegally reentering the United States after having been deported.

Simonds and Thomason are also charged together with one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute in Jasper County.

Reid is also charged with attempting to destroy methamphetamine in order to prevent its seizure by law enforcement officers.

Timothy and Lori Kent are also charged with making their apartment in Carthage available for illegally storing methamphetamine.

Holland was also charged with two counts of being a felon and an unlawful user of marijuana while in possession of firearms and ammunition. The indictment alleges that Holland was in possession of a Harrington and Richardson .22-caliber revolver and five rounds of ammunition on Nov. 9, 2010, in Lawrence County, Mo. The indictment also alleges that Holland was in possession of a Savage Arms 410 shotgun, a Savage 12-gauge shotgun and ammunition on Dec. 4, 2010, in Lawrence County. Holland was also charged with one count of possessing a sawed-off shotgun.

Raley is also charged with four counts of distributing methamphetamine in Lawrence County.

Correa is also charged with two counts, and White with three counts, of using a telephone to facilitate the drug-trafficking conspiracy.

The federal indictment also contains forfeiture allegations, which would require Ferrer-Chavez to forfeit to the government $1,517 that was seized by law enforcement officers, and would require Holland to forfeit to the government all firearms and ammunition cited in the indictment.

Must be one of those fancy “chemists” …

CASSOPOLIS — An Elkhart man is heading to prison for cooking methamphetamine at a residence in Niles.

In Cass County Circuit Court Friday, Shaun Curtis, 28, was sentenced to prison for 51 months to 30 years with credit for 173 days already served.

In November, Michigan State Police officers discovered evidence of meth production in a trailer in Milton Township. The trailer, owned by Curtis’ father, had been vacant when Curtis began producing meth for his personal use there. All the components to cook meth were found at the residence.

Defense attorney Lesley Kranenberg requested Judge Michael Dodge deviate from the guidelines and not send Curtis to prison given the results of his psychological evaluation.

She also argued that Curtis hadn’t been dealing the drug.

“It was a small, residual amount for personal use,” she said, arguing that a prison sentence would “over-penalize” the offense.

For his part, Curtis expressed his desire to turn his life around.

“A sentence of 51 months would add to some of my problems rather than resolve them,” Curtis said.
Dodge defended his sentence.

“I’ve sentenced a lot of meth offenders in the past 10 years,” he said. “This guideline range doesn’t shock me. It is a proportionate and just sentence.”

Check out this frightening story …

LOS BANOS — Evidence is increasing that California prison gangs are forging close relationships with powerful drug-trafficking cartels in Mexico, according to U.S. law enforcement officials and gang experts who say the relationships have moved into a dangerous new area as Mexican cartels and American gangs swap tactical information, share intelligence and exchange techniques to avoid detection.

“What we’re seeing is that highly sophisticated gangs, operating out of the prison system or from cartels in Mexico, are shot-calling, and then farming out the work to local street gangs in California, like the Norteños,” state Attorney General Kamala Harris said recently by phone from Los Banos, the scene of a large anti-gang operation June 7.

Increased cooperation across borders and among organized crime syndicates threatens California in new ways, officials say. As evidence, they point to the beginnings of a spillover into this country of the sort of violence that has pitted cartels against the Mexican government and army.

Historically, the term “transnational gang” has been used by academics and law enforcement officials to refer to the spread of such Central American gangs as Mara Salvatrucha into North Carolina, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Those gangs were formed in part by refugees who had fled the wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras in the 1980s and were deported back to their home countries. Many formed gangs to protect themselves. But they also exported violence.

A January report from the Congressional Research Service found that transnational gangs continue to expand, and over the past three years Congress has allocated more than $100 million to combat their growth in Central America and the U.S.

Harris said the term should be expanded to include the kind of cooperation she said is growing between California prison gangs and Mexican cartels that regularly traffic drugs, weapons and human beings across the U.S. border.

“There is good reason to connect the activities of these gang members here with Mexico,” Harris said. “I think they’re very connected.”

The raid

Just after 7 a.m. June 7 in Los Banos, a quiet Central Valley town, a dozen police officers in dark blue jumpsuits, SWAT gear and M-4 assault rifles loaded into four unmarked police trucks in the parking lot of a Carl’s Jr. They rolled through a quiet suburb of one-story ranch houses, European automobiles and leafy streets. Weapons ready, they knocked loudly at the door of a nondescript residence, and when a hefty Latino man in his mid-30s answered, they arrested him and quickly moved on.

Before the day was over, an additional 74 men would be taken in raids across the Central Valley in the largest gang sweep in California this year, according to detectives involved in the raid. More than 250 officers from 16 state and federal agencies swept into communities in two counties looking for members of a notorious California prison gang, Nuestra Familia, and its street affiliate, the Norteños.

The operation, “Red Zone,” was the latest continuation of a two-year Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement investigation into what Harris calls “the scourge of transnational gangs.” Two days later, a similar operation in Tracy netted 30 more alleged gang members.

Harris said she has made tackling transnational gangs a priority since her term began in January. Two major crackdowns, one in May and another in June, have resulted in almost 200 arrests of alleged gang members, and the seizure of about 200 pounds of methamphetamine.

After members of the Arrellano Felix cartel attempted to assassinate five members of a family in Palmdale, near Los Angeles, in February, Harris traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border to announce the expansion of a multiagency task force in Imperial County, along the border, to target transnational gangs.

Tracking gangs

Operation Red Zone was the latest sting in a two-year effort that provides a window into how the shift in gang methods may be taking place.

Officers from the Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement began tracking an increase in Norteño-related slayings in Salinas in October 2009. There, Norteños and members of Nuestra Familia were importing up to 20 pounds of methamphetamine per week and distributing it regionally. As a result, police say, the homicide rate there doubled from 2007 to 2009, increasing to four times the national average.

When law enforcement caught on, many gang members fled. Some sought safety in the flat plains and farms of the Central Valley, in and around Los Banos, in Merced County. Nuestra Familia, meanwhile, was struggling to get a foothold in the rural areas. But the team that was tracking them in Salinas followed them as they moved east.

What they started to see worried them. Nuestra Familia has established networks all over Northern California and well into Oregon, Illinois, Texas, Colorado and Utah.

The gang also had regimental commanders in several California counties. The ties to the East Bay were also deep and well-entrenched. Detectives found connections to Oakland, Tracy, Concord and Morgan Hill on a regular basis.

In the Salinas takedown in May 2010, the team arrested Martin Mentoya, also known as “Cyclone,” the regimental commander for the East Bay, responsible for Hayward, Oakland and Richmond. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms later indicted Mentoya on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Mentoya was also charged with two counts of firebombing.

“In Los Banos, they were working with people in the Bay Area to share resources,” said Dean Johnston, the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement special agent supervisor and lead investigator on the recent operations. “It’s part of a criminal organization; they all agree to help each other.”

More distressing still were the ties to Mexico, which were more sophisticated than expected. “They’re doing things proactively now to cooperate with each other,” Johnston said. “Now there are signs these gangs are working with the cartels, and it’s more sophisticated than we’ve seen before.”

This strategic partnership appears to mirror a dramatic rise in methamphetamine production in Mexico. According to Malcolm Beith, author of “The Last Narco,” a recent book about the drug war in Mexico, meth production in Mexico has soared since 2003, largely due to U.S. demand. In 2007, the Mexican army seized 22 meth labs. This year, it has already seized 89 — an increase officials say signals radically increased production. One lab in Sinaloa was producing about 20 tons of meth annually at an estimated street value of $700 million.

Making connections

The Nuestra Familia and Norteño members found what they thought was a shelter from law enforcement in the rural communities of the Central Valley. Many lived in nice suburban homes. It was quiet. The detectives began to piece together a picture of how the two organizations are working together. In the past, Johnston said, the cartels would only sell the narcotics that U.S. buyers could pay for up front. Now, he said, the Mexican cartels “are opening lines by giving them fronted amounts of drugs. They’re helping them out, not just selling to them, and that’s a big change.”

Johnston said the cartel leaders have been reassured somewhat by the reputation Norteños have for being honest about their drug trafficking. Whereas other groups may cut their drugs with other products to increase their profit margins, Norteños do not.

“Nuestra Familia guarantees its product,” the detective said. “If people complain about their ability to consume it, they’ll return it. They’re very strict on the quality of their substance.”

This has also reassured the cartels, officials say.

“Recently, these drug-trafficking cartels are making large amounts of meth available to the gangs,” Johnston said. “They’re saying, ‘We know you guys are good for it,’ and that’s a big difference.”

Officials say they have also seen the cartels and the gangs getting more sophisticated. Detectives watched traffickers falsify tags on vehicles to bring cars across the U.S. border from Mexico. A Mexican official with access to vehicle registration was on their payroll. U.S. Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement officials said the Mexican official was getting paid $400 for each vehicle registration change. At least three registrations were changed. Nuestra Familia also began wiring money into bank accounts instead of dealing in cash transactions.

One of the most worrying developments was the sophistication of countersurveillance techniques adopted by the gangs.

“They were driving to meet locations and purposefully trying to avoid detection,” Johnston said. “They never used to do that.”

The more time and exposure the U.S. gangs had to Mexican cartels, the more they tended to adopt the methodology of the cartels, he said.

“The gangs are doing things now that we’ve seen the major drug-trafficking organizations do. They’re learning our techniques, in part, and they’re also learning new stuff from the cartels.”

Officials say the effects of the recent raid will be felt statewide. Gangs and the Mexican cartels have national reach. They dabble in a multitude of transjurisdictional crimes, including weapons and the illegal trade of human beings, including children for the sex trade. Throughout, Nuestra Familia helps smooth transactions.

In the Los Banos case, for example, Norteños from Merced had purchased an AK-47, but didn’t have ammunition for it. They reached out to Morgan Hill Norteños, who supplied them with bullets.

Johnston said he often sees guns used in crimes in the East Bay that resurface months later three counties away, having essentially been “washed” by crossing the county line.

“This is not just about one region,” Harris said. “An operation like this affects the entire state.”

And it is happening all across the United States, not just in California. We have to be aware and prepare …

There is increasing evidence that Mexican drug-trafficking cartels — DTOs, in the language of law enforcement — are forming closer ties with prison and street gangs in California, such as Nuestra Familia and its street affiliate, the Norteños. According to the 2010 National Drug Threat Assessment, this kind of cooperation has been going on in the Southwest border states of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico since about 2001, when federal funds were redirected toward counterterrorism efforts abroad.

According to the NDTA’s website, the reach and sophistication of the cartel-gang nexus has intensified since.

“Hispanic prison gangs such as Hermano de Pistoleros Latinos, or HPL, and Raza Unida operating in Southwest border states have increased their involvement in wholesale drug distribution activities through cooperative relationships with Mexican DTOs,” the report states.

The report’s authors say that some of this cooperation may just make good business sense. In Texas, for instance, the Chicago-based Latin Kings gang has been purchasing cocaine from Mexican drug cartels for between $16,000 and $18,000 per kilo, roughly a third cheaper than what it would pay if it bought from its normal suppliers in Chicago. The cost savings has also bolstered the ability of the cartels to maintain and even extend power as it fights off rivals and the Mexican army at home.

“To ensure a consistent profit stream from the wholesale drugs they purchase from Mexican DTOs, Hispanic prison gangs distribute drugs through street gangs that they largely, if not entirely, control. Through force or intimidation, Hispanic prison gangs exercise significant control over local gangs that distribute their drugs in the Southwest border region,” the NDTA report goes on.

“In Texas, such ties are definitely being solidified,” says Malcolm Beith, author of “The Last Narco,” a recent book about the drug trade in Mexico. Beith says another worry is the explosion of the methamphetamine business.

Meth production boomed in Mexico in the mid-1990s, but took a brief hit when the Mexican government banned ephedrine, the precursor to meth, in 2007. Since then, however, cartels have been importing ephedrine from Asia, and meth production has increased dramatically since 2003. The Sinaloa cartel, run by Chapo Guzman, controls the lion’s share of the burgeoning meth trade.

Each lab is thought to be producing several tons of high quality narcotic, worth millions of dollars on the American street. In the Los Baños raid earlier this month, detectives told me that the meth was between 94 and 99 percent pure, a mark of the Norteños skill at importing high-quality drugs, and keeping them pure for customers.

Beith, who spent several months investigating the drug war, says he has no direct knowledge of what is happening today in California. However, he says, his reporting did turn up evidence that “Mexican drug bosses are increasingly working on the ground in Central America and even former drug hot spots like Colombia, effectively running the show on foreign turf.”

That, says Beith, may indicate that increased cooperation in California may be part of a more global trend.

Since 2001, the true reach of the major Mexican cartels has been a subject of intense debate. Beith says he has come across former DEA officials who believe, for instance, that Chapo Guzman has direct contact with other organized crime bosses, and even perhaps terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, the Shiite extremist group in south Lebanon. Beith has never confirmed these allegations himself, and says there is scant evidence to support such claims.

What worries U.S. officials most is the possible spillover of violence from Mexico. Beith says these fears are overrated. “Mexico’s biggest problem is lack of law enforcement,” he says, “not the number of sociopaths here.”

These days, he points out, it costs around $35 to have someone killed in Sinaloa because the police are