A Sacramento bail bondsman, who is an ex-felon with a drug history, has been criminally charged with a number of weapons violations for taking guns instead of money from arrestees who were looking to get out of jail.

Some of the guns that bondsman Shawn Allen Rapoza accepted in lieu of cash were stolen, according a prosecutor’s declaration supporting the 21-count criminal complaint filed Nov. 19 by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.

Rapoza, 36, still holds the license he obtained in November 2010 at Ace Deuce Bail Bonds on H Street, although the state Department of Insurance has since taken action to suspend it.

The DA’s Office charged Rapoza with two counts of possession and two more counts of transportation of assault weapos, He is named in six counts of being an ex-felon in possession of firearms. The complaint also accuses him of illegal possession of a stun gun, possession of ammunition, possession of methamphetamine, paying an inmate to solicit bail for him in the jail and failing to properly maintain collateral that was posted as bail.

In his declaration, Deputy District Attorney Sam Alexander said Rapoza admitted to the possession of some of the weapons and also to meth.

“Some of the weapons were stolen, and the defendant accepted those weapons in exchange for providing bail,” Alexander said in the declaration.

Prosecutors declined to comment further on the case.

Sacramento attorney John Virga, whose office is representing Rapoza, said, “At this point, he is presumed innocent.” Virga declined to comment further.

Sacramento Superior Court records show that Rapoza was convicted in 1997 for possession of methamphetamine and for illegally carrying a weapon and was placed on probation. The next year, Rapoza pleaded no contest to possession of methamphetamine for sale and was sentenced to state prison for two years, the records showed.

He could not be reached Tuesday, and a man who answered a telephone at the Ace Deuce office declined to comment.

Rapoza, whose next court date is Dec. 10, is free on a $250,000 bond. His bail had been set as high as $500,000, but it was lowered by Judge Laurel D. White at a Thursday hearing in Sacramento Superior Court.

In a letter to the court for the bail review, Rapoza’s parents said: “In the early years of his life, Shawn was involved in things he should not have. He had to pay a heavy price and suffered the consequences.”

The letter said Rapoza was released from prison in 2000, worked in the construction industry and obtained his bail bonds license when the economy slowed the local construction business.

“Shawn has been the sole bread winner for his family for over a year,” the parents’ letter said. “We are finding it very difficult too and are shocked to hear of these charges brought against him.”

Prosecutors charged Rapoza with illegal possession and transportation of a Stag Arms .223 assault rifle and an Interdynamic 9mm handgun, also classified in the complaint as an assault weapon.

A Nov. 13 search of his home, business and a storage locker also turned up a Winchester pump shotgun, a Taurus .38 revolver, a Daniel Defense .223 rifle, a Survival Arms .223 rifle, a Glock semiautomatic pistol, a Taurus .357 revolver, a Sturm Ruger .357 revolver, a Derringer .38, a Vulcan .223 rifle, a Jennings .22 pistol, a stun gun and some 9mm ammunition.

Investigators also found 1.87 grams of methamphetamine, according to Alexander’s declaration.

According to an affidavit in support of the search warrant, Sacramento police first became interested in Rapoza when a patrol officer listening in on jailhouse phone calls made by a person he had arrested for theft heard the inmate talking on a number of occasions with Rapoza.

In August, the investigation revealed that Rapoza was driving a Chevy TrailBlazer that a woman who made bail in May 2011 had posted as collateral – a violation of the California Code of Regulations governing bail agents, according to the DA’s Office.

The investigators also learned that Rapoza received more than 90 calls from an inmate who has since been convicted on felony charges of receiving stolen property.

During one of his calls, the inmate told Rapoza “that he would be working for him,” according to the affidavit – a violation of a state law that prohibits bail agents from using incarcerated people to solicit business. Rapoza and the inmate spoke “several times a week, sometimes multiple times per day,” the affidavit said.

“(The inmate) would tell Shawn that he found a person who was looking for bail and hand the phone over to another inmate who would then discuss terms of bail, such as collateral and down payments,” the affidavit said.

Jail records showed that in exchange for the business contacts, Rapoza had money put on the inmate’s books, including one instance when the bondsman’s father made the deposit.

Detectives also learned during the course of the investigation that a Yolo County burglary suspect provided Rapoza with stolen goods in exchange for bail, the affidavit said.

Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, a longtime figure in the area’s bail industry, said Rapoza came into the local bail scene “brand new a couple years ago” and “overnight, he’s in the top five as far as writing bail.”

“An unknown like him starts shooting up and people are saying, ‘Wait. What’s going on?’”

State regulations that govern bail bondsmen in California do not bar them from getting a license if they have a criminal conviction.

Ketchikan, Alaska – Wednesday, officers of the Ketchikan Police Department, with assistance of the F.B.I. and a local Ketchikan resident, completed an investigation of a group of suspects involved in alleged Methamphetamine importation and distribution from the state of Washington. Multiple search warrants were executed to include a hotel room, a vehicle, and a boat.

According to information provided by Sgt. Andy Berntson of the Ketchikan Police Department, arrested and charged with multiple outstanding extraditable arrest warrants out of the state of Washington for Robbery, and felony Fugitive from Justice, was Cayse R. Sivertsen, a 32 year old man. Sivertsen, a Washington resident with Ketchikan ties, is alleged to have participated in the importation and distribution of Methamphetamine with Kim M. Johnston, a 45 year old woman, a Washington resident.

Sivertsen was also found to be in possession of $506.00 in alleged drug proceeds. Johnston was contacted and arrested on a boat in Bar Harbor and found to be in possession of approximately 5 grams of Methamphetamine, $1186.00, and Clonazepam.  Both Siverten and Johnston were contacted with drug use and distribution paraphernalia.

Alexander B. Karlson, 21 years-of-age, was also contacted during the investigation, arrested and charged with Misconduct Involving A Controlled Substance In The Third Degree, and Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance In The Fourth Degree for possession of Methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  Karlson was also found to be in possession of drug distribution paraphernalia.

All three were initially held without bail.







A 27-year-old Pomona woman faces several drug-related charges after being stopped by Ottawa police early Sunday morning for a traffic infraction.

Natalie Hankins, 27, Pomona, was arrested midnight Sunday in the 1900 block of South Princeton Street on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, according to a police report.








A Marshfield couple is facing four criminal charges, including neglecting a child after they’re accused of leaving needles used to inject methamphetamine near a two-month-old baby.

According to court documents, an investigation began Nov. 3 after a neighbor called police to report a strong odor of marijuana coming from the apartment.

Officers say inside the apartment they found loose marijuana, syringes, and a light bulb used to smoke methamphetamine.


Investigators says the child was lying the couch wearing a shirt but no diaper. When officers arrived the light bulb and syringe were approximately 2′ away from the baby.

The tenants, Kristin Leffel, 32, and Stephen Thompson, 48, identified themselves as the child’s parents. They are both charged with possession of THC, possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia to store meth, and neglecting a child.

Leffel is behind bars on a $10,000 cash bond. She’s scheduled to a enter on plea to the charges Dec. 9.

Thompson is free on a $3,500 signature bond. Thompson has already pleaded not guilty to the charges. His case his scheduled to head to trial Jan. 22.







Picture a recovering meth addict and a multiple felon, and the appearance of Surinder Dhaliwal would be among the last images the mind would conjure.



On Tuesday afternoon, Dhaliwal wore a button-down, blue-collared shirt tucked into khaki slacks and brown dress shoes. He smiled easily and often. His voice still carried a tinge of his native British accent, lending a distinguished note to his words that belie his journey, his struggle, to get where he is today.

He gives all the credit for his turnaround to the Salvation Army, who helped him stray from a path of addiction and self-destruction.

“When I first went to the Salvation Army, I was destitute,” Dhaliwal said. “I was homeless; meth addiction had completely taken a hold of me.”

It was May 2007. He had just lost his job at 5-Star Limousine after he wrecked one of the cars and then lied about it.

“That was the end of it,” Dhaliwal said. “The problem was larger than I thought, and I needed help.”

Together with his daughter, Cheyanne, then 4 years old, Dhaliwal enrolled in the Salvation Army Depot Crisis Center, a transitional shelter program.

“It was a big challenge at the beginning — just letting go of the guilt and being able to forgive myself,” Dhaliwal said. “I was mad and angry; I was fighting my spiritual awakening and the fact that God was guiding me the whole time.”

Now, Dhaliwal credits his faith and never forgetting who he was as the keys to his recovery.

Years removed from the program, Dhaliwal is still a Salvation Army fixture. He is there three times a week, and he plays drums for the church band.

His appearance has changed so dramatically that when he reaches out to those fighting through addiction, they have trouble believing Dhaliwal ever lived a similar life.

“It’s important to show people that you can make it out and be successful,” Dhaliwal said. “If you are struggling and think things are hopeless, they really aren’t. Once you can forgive yourself and reach out to get help, you can get over addiction.”

CONTACT reporter Andrew Creasey at 749-4780 and on Twitter @AD_Creasey. Salvation Army’s program Surinder Dhaliwal gives all the credit to the Salvation Army Depot Family Crisis Center for helping him recover from a life of meth addiction and prison stints.

The facility has operated with 11 single-family rooms and three dorms. The program has 64 beds and has an average of 58 participants a day.

It’s a six-month program that offers case management, budget counseling, individual, family and group therapy, a state-certified substance abuse program, life skills instruction and an educational and vocational assessment.

There is also six months of aftercare, with once- a-week classes and drug testing.

For Dhaliwal, and many other, it helped turn life around.

“I’m blessed with a great life,” Dhaliwal said. “I’m not perfect, but I try to be kind and do the right thing these days. I just keep being faithful and remind myself that God has a plan.”







CALEXICO – Authorities seized 26 pounds of methamphetamine and arrested a Redlands woman on Friday at the Calexico East Port of Entry.

Around 5:30 p.m., Elva Charline Ruiz, 25, of Redlands approached the Calexico East Port of Entry driving a 2001 Lexus, according to the court complaint.

Customs and Border Protection officer noticed anomalies in the spare tire of the vehicle after it was scanned and a detector dog alerted to the rear cargo area.

Elva Charline Ruiz

Elva Charline Ruiz

Officers found 18 packages of methamphetamine in the spare tire and quarter panels of the vehicle. The narcotics had a total weight of 26 pounds and estimated street value of about $500,000.

Seized meth

Packages of methamphetamine were found inside a vehicle’s tires adn quarter panels Friday at the Calexico East Port of Entry


Ruis was turned over to Homeland Security Investigation agents for further processing and booked into Imperial County jail on suspicion of importation of a controlled substance. CBP seized the vehicle and narcotics.









OKLAHOMA CITY – The same people who leave dead bodies and severed heads littering a busy highway in Mexico are now moving their operations to Oklahoma. Their product: Mexican ice or crystal meth. Cheap, highly addictive and the profits are astronomical.

Police say they’ll do anything to protect their investment.

“They play by different rules than normal people. They’re not negotiating contracts over a steak dinner at the local steakhouse. They’re negotiating if things don’t go their way, with an AK-47 in the parking lot of the steakhouse,” said Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Director, Darrell Weaver.

Unlike the small, home labs we see in Oklahoma, Mexican meth is made in super labs where they don’t produce grams or pounds, but, tons of meth, bound for the US, including Oklahoma.


Unlike the small, home labs we see in Oklahoma, Mexican meth is made in super labs where they don't produce grams or pounds, but, tons of meth, bound for the US, including Oklahoma.

Unlike the small, home labs we see in Oklahoma, Mexican meth is made in super labs where they don’t produce grams or pounds, but, tons of meth, bound for the US, including Oklahoma.


These organizations are tightly run. There are drivers, lookouts, stash house operators, dispatchers and runners. They live in our neighborhoods and blend in to avoid detection.

These organizations are tightly run. There are drivers, lookouts, stash house operators, dispatchers and runners. They live in our neighborhoods and blend in to avoid detection.

Agents say as much as 25 pounds of meth arrive in Oklahoma City from Mexico every week. That's enough for 24,000 hits.A

gents say as much as 25 pounds of meth arrive in Oklahoma City from Mexico every week. That’s enough for 24,000 hits.

The users tell undercover agents the difference between that product and what’s made locally is like night and day and will “knock your socks off.” These organizations are tightly run. There are drivers, lookouts, stash house operators, dispatchers and runners. They live in our neighborhoods and blend in to avoid detection.

“They’re not flashy,” the agent said. “They live in stash houses, apartments or small rental properties with just the bare basics: mattress, food, TV. For the most part, what they’re here to do is sell drugs, 24 hours a day.”

A bust in the metro in early 2013 took local agents eight months to infiltrate. In the end, they arrested 21 connected to the cartel and seized at least 13 pounds of highly potent Mexican meth. Agents say as much as 25 pounds of meth arrive in Oklahoma City from Mexico every week. That’s enough for 24,000 hits.

“It’s something we don’t want to think about being in our backyard,” the agent said. “But the reality is, it’s here and here every day.”

And, that violence we’ve seen in Mexico: 7,000 murders, 500 police killed – some of that bleeds over here too, because drugs, guns and violence often go together.

Police say a man was gunned down at a Tulsa car wash a few years ago because he lost a load of Mexican dope. In another incident, two men were shot to death in a car on a busy street. Police say it was a cartel hit.

“Even though you may not know a cartel member, may not be associated, think you never cross paths with one of these people,” Weaver said, “the collateral damage of cartel members is in Oklahoma.”

Local DA’s and US attorneys have prosecuted several cases in Oklahoma in recent years with cartel connections, including a raid at a horse ranch in Lexington during summer 2012. The FBI says the ranch was a front to launder drug money for a ruthless and violent Mexico drug cartel.

The cartels aren’t just involved in drug trafficking in Oklahoma, but human trafficking as well.