15 Members of L.A. Drug Trafficking Ring Charged With Distributing Heroin, Meth and Cocaine in Federal Indictment

Eleven people were arrested Wednesday on charges of participating in a long-running drug trafficking operation, officials said.

A total of 15 people were charged in a federal grand jury indictment alleging they participated in a drug trafficking operation that distributed heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine from multiple locations throughout Los Angeles County, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California said in a news release.

The 20-count indictment charges the 15 defendants with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and alleges a series of acts in furtherance of the conspiracy between 2015 and 2019.

Law enforcement seized approximately 18 pounds of cocaine, 11 pounds of heroin, 20 pounds of meth, 10 firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and more than $200,000 in suspected drug proceeds during their investigation, officials said.

The 11 people in custody were expected to make an initial court appearance Wednesday, following their arrest.

Gabriel Ortega, aka “Nightowl,” 42, of Lynwood, is among those arrested and is alleged to be one of the ringleaders of the operation, officials said. He reportedly directed narcotics distribution operations from his Lynwood home and from his storefront in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of northeast Los Angeles.

Ortega sold nearly one pound of meth for $2,800 on two separate occasions at the storefront between Dec. 2015 and Feb. 2016, according to the indictment.

Raul Sanchez, aka “Rawlo,” 39, of Alhambra, who was also arrested Wednesday and is allegedly the other ringleader, is charged with being the ring’s primary distributor of narcotics, officials said.

In March 2018, Sanchez allegedly coordinated the delivery of approximately 11 pounds of cocaine, 9 pounds of heroin and 15 pounds of meth to a storage facility in Alhambra. He reportedly had three unregistered “ghost guns” and one .45-caliber Glock pistol along with ammunition at the facility, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, Ortega and Sanchez each face charges of knowingly and intentionally possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances. Sanchez, who has previously been convicted in L.A. Superior Court on four separate drug possession charges, has also been charged with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

If convicted on all counts, the defendants face a statutory maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentences of at least 10 years in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

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