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Brown Announces Six Arrests, Seizure of $1.1 Million in U.S. Currency in Latest Sinaloa Drug Cartel Bust

Thursday, September 3, 2009
Contact: (415) 703-5837

El Centro, Calif. – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced today that agents from his office have once again “successfully disrupted” operations of the dangerous Sinaloa drug cartel, seizing more than $1.1 million in U.S. currency and arresting six individuals who attempted to purchase approximately 160 pounds of cocaine this week.

“Agents from the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement have arrested six associates of the Sinaloa drug cartel and seized over $1 million in U.S. currency,” Brown said. “Combined with last week’s indictments and seizures, these arrests have once again successfully disrupted the operations of this dangerous criminal syndicate.”

As part of an undercover operation last month, agents from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE) met with associates of the Sinaloa drug cartel who were interested in purchasing a large quantity of cocaine. These individuals operated out of Imperial, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.

From August 29 through August 31, 2009, BNE agents brokered a narcotics transaction with the suspects through a series of undercover meetings. The individuals eventually agreed to purchase approximately 160 pounds of cocaine for just over $1.1 million. The street value of this quantity of cocaine is more than $7 million.

After the deal, BNE agents made arrests at two locations. The first location was in a Home Depot parking lot located at 6400 Alondra Boulevard in Paramount, Calif. where two of the suspects had arrived to pick up the 160 pounds of cocaine. The second was at a residence on the 15000 block of Lime Street in Hesperia, Calif. where four of the suspects were waiting with the $1.1 million in U.S. currency.

The following suspects were arrested and are being held in Imperial County Jail on $2 million bail each for Possession for Sales of Cocaine; Transportation of Cocaine; and Possession of Excess $100,000 of Drug Proceeds:

• Mario Sicairos Eseberre, 46, of Culiacan, Mexico;
• Carlos Victor Lopez Mora, 66, of Mexicali, Mexico;
• Edgar Laureano Cruz, 40, of Los Angeles, Calif.
• George Rico, 32 of Hesperia, Calif.;
• Janette Rico, 32 of Hesperia, Calif.; and
• Modesto Marin Rico, 53, of Hesperia, Calif.

If convicted on all charges, each suspect faces up to 15 years in prison.

Agents from the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (L.A. IMPACT) and the El Monte Police Department assisted BNE with the investigation.

After the arrests were made, three children, between the ages of 10 and 15, living at the residence in Hesperia were turned over to child protective services.

Agents also seized five weapons at the Hesperia residence, including:

• Bushmaster, model XM15E2S, .223 caliber;
• Olympic Arms AR-15, .223 caliber;
• Llama, model 38 super, 38 caliber;
• MAADI Co., MISR AK-47; and
• Dan Wesson, model 445, caliber .44.

Approximately $27,000 was also seized from the suspects arrested in Paramount.

This bust follows last week’s announcement that Brown’s office, working with Imperial County District Attorney Gilbert Otero, had secured indictments against 16 individuals and seized over 550 pounds of cocaine and marijuana as part of “Operation Silver Fox,” an eight- month undercover investigation into the Sinaloa drug cartel. This investigation involved BNE, the Imperial County Narcotic Task Force, Imperial County District Attorney Otero and Imperial County Sheriff Raymond Loera.

The Sinaloa drug cartel is notorious for smuggling drugs into Southern California—often through the Calexico ports of entry—and purchasing cocaine from other drug traffickers in San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Imperial Counties. The drugs are ultimately distributed to local buyers in Southern California, Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Canada.

Pictures of the currency and weapons seized are attached.

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