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Visalia Criminal Law Blog

Two arrested in Wasco drug bust

In early July, California authorities arrested a man and a woman for allegedly dealing drugs in Wasco. The arrests were the result of a one-month investigation.

In June, a Wasco County Sheriff's Office deputy reportedly began investigating the source of methamphetamine sales taking place in the county. During the course of the investigation, he determined that a 34-year-old woman might be involved in the case and obtained a warrant to search her property. At approximately 10 p.m. on July 8, deputies pulled the woman over near the intersection of Jackson Avenue and Highway 43 and performed a search of her vehicle. The search allegedly yielded 1.3 grams of methamphetamine and various drug paraphernalia. Deputies then took the woman to her house, located on the 1000 block of Cypress Avenue, to continue their search. While inside the home, they allegedly uncovered 4 grams of methamphetamine, 10 pounds of marijuana, 74 prescription pills, 17 firearms and a significant amount of ammunition. They also found signs that drug sales were being conducted in the home.

California man sentenced to 15 years on gun and drug charges

A 48-year-old California man was sentenced to 15 years in a federal prison on July 8 for committing firearm and narcotics crimes. Following a one-day bench trial in March, the San Bernardino County resident, who police say is a member of a notorious Los Angeles street gang, was found guilty of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking activities and possessing a gun while a convicted felon. The judge also ordered that he serve five years of supervised release after completing his custodial sentence.

According to media reports, the man was taken into custody following a routine traffic stop in February. Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department say that they pulled the man's Chevrolet Tahoe over after observing it being driven erratically in the Angelino Heights area. Police claim that the man gave them permission to search his vehicle.

Hells Angels leader and others charged with meth trafficking

Evidence collected by the FBI, California Highway Patrol, and local law enforcement in Modesto has reportedly built a case for methamphetamine trafficking against the president of the Modesto Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and its associates. Federal authorities have charged the club president, his wife and another man with conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine.

Investigators deployed wire taps on the phones of the 61-year-old club president and his 51-year-old wife. Their allegedly incriminating conversations along with surveillance of other people and traffic stops prompted law enforcement agents to obtain search warrants for the club house in downtown Modesto along with six other locations in Stanislaus County. During these searches, officers took the couple into custody along with another 61-year-old man.

California authorities bust major meth ring

On June 19, federal, state and local authorities in California conducted an undercover drug raid called "Operation Red Reaper," which broke up a large drug distribution network that was allegedly run by violent street and prison gangs. The raid, which resulted in the arrest of 54 people, was the culmination of a 10-month investigation.

According to media reports, members of the Norteño street gang and the Nuestra Familia prison gang were distributing methamphetamine throughout Kings County and Tulare County. Apparently, two members of Nuestra Familia used contraband cell phones to run the operation from within Pleasant Valley State Prison in Fresno County, ordering drugs from suppliers in Mexico and California and arranging their transport to a Kings County stash house. From there, it was delivered to lower-level drug dealers and sold to customers.

California court overrules inmates' marijuana possession charges

The drug possession convictions of five California prison inmates who had their sentences extended after marijuana was found in their cells have been overturned. The ruling, which was made by the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District in Sacramento, was released on June 11. The Attorney General's Office has not yet announced whether it plans to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court.

California voters chose to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by passing Proposition 64 in 2016. The panel of three appeals judges hearing the case determined that marijuana's revised status meant that prisoners could no longer be guilty of a crime for possessing an ounce or less of the drug. However, they also pointed out that the consumption of marijuana by state inmates remains illegal and could lead to additional sanctions. An attorney from the Sacramento County Public Defender's Office praised the ruling and said that it would save taxpayers money. It costs the state between $50,000 and $75,000 to incarcerate an inmate for a year according to the public defender.

Former California attorney pleads guilty to wire fraud

On June 7, it was reported that a former California attorney pleaded guilty to wire fraud after he falsely represented to his clients that the legal resolutions he obtained for them were favorable. The 36-year-old attorney faxes a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud charge.

The former attorney was reportedly a licensed lawyer from January 2012 until December 2017, when he was disbarred. In May 2012, the former attorney and a co-conspirator defrauded the clients by stating that he had gotten favorable resolutions for his clients' legal cases. However, he rarely obtained favorable resolutions and, in some instances, never even initiated legal action. In many cases, the false representation caused some of the victims to lose their ability to obtain compensation. It is estimated that the false representations cost his clients more than $4 million in actual losses.

Man faces DUI charges as officer sees open container during stop

When law enforcement in California initiates a traffic stop for any reason, the officer will check for signs of violations when investigating. This is true even if the stop was unrelated to suspected driving under the influence. If there are signs or evidence of a driver who is intoxicated, it will likely lead to an arrest. One reason for an arrest to be made is if there is an open container of alcohol in the vehicle.

A California Highway Patrolman saw a vehicle with an expired registration and stopped it. As the investigation was conducted, the officer saw a 12-pack of beer on the floor of the passenger side. There was an open container in the cup holder. After running a check, the officer found that the man’s driver’s license was suspended.

California police seize methamphetamine worth $1.25 million

Police seized more than 500 pounds of methamphetamine in San Bernardino County after a multi-agency narcotics investigation into the activities of the Sinaloa drug cartel. A 55-year-old Apple Valley man and a 21-year-old Ontario resident have been charged in connection with the drugs. Agencies participating in the investigation include the California Highway Patrol, the Alhambra and West Covina police departments and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to media reports, the drugs were found when police searched a residence on Tussing Ranch Road in Apple Valley. In addition to the methamphetamine, which is said to be worth about $1.25 million, police allegedly discovered five M4 and M16 assault rifles and $38,000 in cash during the search. Reports indicate that evidence gathered at the scene led police to a nearby auto repair facility where they discovered 40 grams of fentanyl and six handguns.

California man charged with DUI after fatal accident

The California Highway Patrol believes that a 24-year-old San Joaquin Valley man was drunk and speeding when his GMC pickup truck ran through a stop sign in Tulare County and struck a Pontiac sedan on the night of May 12. The 75-year-old woman behind the wheel of the Pontiac and her 67-year-old female passenger lost their lives in the crash. The man also suffered serious injuries in the accident and was rushed by paramedics to the Kaweah Delta Medical Center. He faces a raft of charges including vehicular manslaughter and DUI involving an injury.

According to a CHP report, the accident took place at the intersection of Road 60 and Highway 137, which is also called Inyo Avenue, near Tulare at approximately 8:30 p.m. Officers say that interviews with witnesses and an examination of the man's pickup lead them to believe that he was traveling at about 70 mph when he struck the Pontiac. The posted speed limit in the area is 55 mph.

Federal agents arrest 4 men in dark web drug distribution ring

A U.S. attorney for the Central District of California described the international investigation that identified men profiting from online drug sales as an example of the Department of Justice's ability to counteract sophisticated dark web criminals. The investigation resulted in the arrest of four German men and another man from Brazil. They were allegedly involved with a dark web marketplace called Wall Street Market, which authorities described as the second-largest online market for contraband.

According to the criminal complaint filed against the Germans in a federal court, they allegedly served as administrators for the market website. The marketplace connected buyers with sellers of counterfeit goods, narcotics and malicious hacking software. Federal prosecutors said that the men funneled $11 million from the operation into their personal accounts.

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