SoCal Crew Accused of Using Aztec Calendars, Statues to Ship Meth to Hawaii: DOJ
Officials on Tuesday arrested eight Southern Californians in connection with an alleged scheme to ship drugs disguised as Aztec artifacts to Hawaii.
Four Garden Grove residents—Vaimanino Lee Pomele, Alejandra Pomele, Fernando Caballero Rascon, James Arnold Borbon—were detained Tuesday along with Felix Salgado of Perris, Gary Wayne Minter of Victorville, Stephen Dgewell Martin of Anaheim and Moises Rey Avina of Santa Ana, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Prosecutors accused the group, including a ninth person already in custody on an a separate case, of conspiring to send 11.7 kilograms of methamphetamine to Hawaii from a Garden Grove post office on July 17.
“Those drugs were part of a nearly 90-pound shipment that appeared to be colorful, decorative Mexican items, including replicas of the 500-year-old Aztec calendar stone,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Members of the crew also allegedly sent two other packages to Hawaii over the past year, one with about two pounds of meth and another with nearly five pounds of the substance.
Authorities managed to intercept all three shipments, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Martin, the 30-year-old Anaheim man named in the indictment, was accused of dropping off the package disguised as decorative Aztec items to the post office in July.
Salgado, 28, procured wholesale quantities of the drugs for the group from German Bastidas Nunez, a 46-year-old Moreno Valley man who was already in custody, prosecutors said.
Officials believed Minter, 55, used his Victorville home as a stash house, while Vaimanino Pomele, 49, was accused of orchestrating the shipments to Hawaii.
Avina, 39, and Rascon, 42, allegedly bought drugs from Vaimanino Pomele. His wife, Alejandra, delivered drugs to a customer on at least one occasion, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Borbon, 58, was a customer of the drug ring, according to prosecutors.
The eight people arrested on Tuesday morning were scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Ana on Tuesday afternoon.
If convicted as charged, each defendant could face at least five years in federal prison.
Federal drug and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials continued to investigate the case with the Cypress Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.