LOS ANGELES – Federal and local authorities investigating firearm- and drug-related crimes in the San Fernando Valley conducted a series of pre-dawn raids on Wednesday and took more than a dozen people into custody, including two from Palmdale.
Fidel Moreno-Dominguez, 47, of Palmdale, is charged with conspiracy to distribute one pound of methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm after being convicted of selling narcotics.
Luis Angel Torres, 28, of Palmdale, is charged with engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license, and two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition after being convicted of possession for sale of a controlled substance.
Walter Wilfredo Lagos, 34, of Palmdale, has been federally indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute one pound of methamphetamine and distribution of methamphetamine, but he remains at large, according to a statement from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The arrests followed a six-month investigation by the ATF and the Los Angeles Police Department.
From February to July, ATF and LAPD personnel conducted a joint investigation called Crime Area Gun Enforcement (CAGE) Valley Bureau, “working the streets and targeting violent offenders, the criminal activity of gang members, shooters and multi-convicted felons,” according to the ATF statement.
Investigators used confidential informants to introduce an ATF undercover agent, who made controlled purchases of contraband from the suspects resulting in the seizure of 30 weapons, including restricted firearms such as short-barrel rifles and silencers, and about 18 pounds of methamphetamine, officials said.
The investigation also uncovered two locations where AR-15 and AK-47 type rifles were being manufactured and illegally sold. The contraband purchased in the investigation included:
- Twenty-five firearms;
- Five National Firearm Act (NFA) weapons (two short-barrel rifles, one short-barrel shotgun, and two silencers);
- More than 400 rounds of assorted ammunition;
- Approximately 18 pounds of methamphetamine; and
- Narcotics to include MDMA, marijuana and cocaine.
About 300 law enforcement personnel served early morning warrants on Wednesday in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley, seizing an additional 13 firearms (eight pistols, four rifles and one shot gun), approximately 2 ½ pounds of methamphetamine, more than 500 rounds of ammunition, $10,000 in currency, and various amounts of heroin, crack cocaine, firearm manufacturing tools, and drug paraphernalia, officials said.
In the operation, Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services took custody of 14 youngsters and placed them in protective care.
The investigation did not target specific criminal organizations but instead zeroed in on “the worst criminal activity to include recent shootings related to street gangs Blythe, Langdon, Pacoima and San Fer,” said ATF Los Angeles Field Division Special Agent in Charge Eric Harden.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said: “There is no doubt that removing guns from our streets and arresting criminals who use and carry guns prevents senseless violence in our communities.”
Other suspects arrested Wednesday and facing federal charges include:
- Robert Steven Carrillo, 31, of Redlands;
- Alexander Ramirez “Dozer” Manzo, 34, of Pacoima;
- Brandon C. Torres, 30, of Van Nuys;
- Antonio “Trippy” Cisneros, 31, of North Hollywood;
- Gino Cesar Dresda, 24, of Panorama City;
- Anival Alvarez, 41, of San Fernando;
- Maribel Lopez-Reyes, 30, of San Fernando;
- Luis Angel Torres, 28, of Palmdale;
- Rudy Salazar, 36, of Mission Hills;
- Albert Benjamin “Dragon” Perez, 57, of Granada Hills; and
- Steven Clyde Neaville, 53, of Van Nuys.
State defendants include Manuel R. Moreno, 35, aka “Bobby” or “Mo,” and Urban A. Jones, 29, a fugitive.
Additional state defendants that were already in police custody for previous charges include:
- Jose L. Hernandez, 28, aka “Pollo”;
- Audel Rangel Jr., 42;
- Jimmy Meza, 29;
- Erik Moneterroz; and
- Juan Gerardo, aka “Necio.”
“Working together we successfully arrested 11 federal defendants with a criminal history of more than 100 prior arrests and more than two dozen felony convictions. The six state defendants (have) a combined criminal history of more than 30 prior arrests and more than a handful of felony convictions,” Harden said.
View video from Wednesday’s operation here.