An Imperial Beach man is among more than 40 people across Southern California and Mexico charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances for their alleged involvement in smuggling heroin, crystal methamphetamine and cocaine from Mexico to Los Angeles, authorities announced Wednesday.
Four of the 43 charged are already in custody in San Diego, including Rogelio Ramon Bohon Chao, 41, of Imperial Beach and Florencio Fernandez Galarza from Riverside County, the Department of Justice said.
The two were arrested at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in June while attempting to smuggle 9 kilograms of methamphetamine across the border from Mexico, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Pilgrim.
About five of those charged remain at large and are likely in Mexico, Pilgrim said.
ICE agents and other law enforcement agencies exacted search warrants at a dozen properties across Southern California Wednesday, including Chao's home in the 500 block of Florence Street.
The House of Tacos in Van Nuys and an auto repair business in North Hollywood where cars were allegedly customized to carry drugs also were raided.
Among 17 arrested Wednesday by federal agents is Jose Daniel Lopez, 33, who lives in Mexico and operated a masonry business in Chula Vista.
According to authorities, Lopez coordinated money transfers and drug supplies for the operator of the auto shop.
Carlos David Martinez Galvan, 23, of Chula Vista, was also arrested.
“This investigation has dealt a serious blow to a trafficking network we believe was funneling significant quantities of high-grade methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin into the Los Angeles area,” said Claude Arnold, a special agent in charge of homeland security investigations in Los Angeles.
“In fact, the Mexican-made methamphetamine seized in this case is some of the most pure we’ve ever seen,” Arnold said in a press release.
“Today’s arrests have disrupted a potentially deadly supply chain and prevented untold quantities of dangerous drugs from reaching our streets.”
The arrests are the result of a 10-month wiretap investigation carried out by the IRS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and the Torrance Police Department.