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Visalia Criminal Law Blog

K-9 unit discovers drugs during traffic stop

A 38-year-old California man was taken into custody on narcotics charges on the night of Jan. 19 after methamphetamine and cocaine were allegedly found in his vehicle during a routine traffic stop in Santa Barbara County. Police say the seized drugs would be worth about $2,300 if sold on the street. The man has been charged with possessing drugs with the intent to distribute, reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol. He is being held at the Santa Barbara County Jail, and his bail has been set at $250,000.

The man's BMW sedan was stopped by police at approximately 9:30 p.m. near the intersection of Knudson Way and South Western Avenue in Santa Maria. Officers say that they observed the vehicle exceed the posted speed limit on Donovan Road and ignore a red light at the intersection of Cook Street and South Blosser Road. The man was taken into custody at the scene after officers determined that he was impaired by alcohol and a records check revealed that he had an outstanding warrant.

California man pleads not guilty to 33 fraud and theft charges

During a preliminary hearing in a Van Nuys courtroom, a 37-year-old man entered not guilty pleas for all 33 charges against him for fraud and theft. He had already decided against a plea deal that limited his sentence in state prison to no more than seven years.

Seven witnesses so far entered testimony against him at the hearing, and more have been scheduled to speak in court in the near future before a judge will make the decision about whether or not he will stand trial. Testimony from a Lyft driver and dental office manager styled the man as a persuasive con artist who convinced them to cash his checks due to problems at his bank.

Police in California searching for burglary suspects

Police in California apprehended three suspects in connection with the attempted armed robbery of a legal marijuana growing business in Patterson. The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department says that as many as nine more individuals may have been involved. The attempted burglary occurred just nine days after a group of individuals assaulted a security guard at the facility. The business owner believes that the same group was responsible for both incidents.

SCSD deputies were dispatched to the scene at about 1:30 a.m. after a security guard called 911. The guard says that he made the call after noticing a group of approximately 12 individuals wearing masks and carrying handguns and rifles on security monitors. Deputies arrived at the business about 30 minutes later and established a perimeter near the intersection of Fig Avenue and Ash Avenue. The decision to enter the business was made when a SWAT team arrived at the scene.

Woman facing charge for employee credit card use

A California woman has been accused of using her employee credit card to make unauthorized purchases for more than four years. The 32-year-old woman, who formerly worked for the Yolo County Office of Education (YCOE), was handed one felony embezzlement charge. She is scheduled for an arraignment in Yolo Superior Court on Feb. 6.

The woman reportedly began working for YCOE in 2005, and she was serving as the College and Career Readiness director before her arraignment. After YCOE learned about the alleged embezzlement activity in October 2018, the Woodland Police Department began an investigation, with which YCOE cooperated. During the investigation, investigators allegedly found evidence that the woman was falsifying mileage reports and using a YCOE credit card for her personal expenses.

Federal agents accuse 2 California men of meth trafficking

Two brothers from Vallejo, ages 24 and 30, remain in federal custody after searches of their homes produced methamphetamine, a semi-automatic handgun and two AK-47 assault rifles. According to information released by the Napa Special Investigations Bureau, the men sold methamphetamine and cocaine to undercover detectives on multiple occasions.

In cooperation with agents from Homeland Security Investigations, NSIB detectives monitored the brothers' activities from August until December when authorities arrested them. Their arrest led to the approval of search warrants for both of their residences where authorities reportedly gathered additional evidence.

California deputies arrest man with suspected stolen goods, meth

Humboldt County sheriff's deputies arrested a 35-year-old man in McKinleyville who fled from a vehicle reported stolen by its owner in Arcata. A search of the vehicle revealed objects that the California State Parks had reported stolen. Other items that appeared stolen filled the vehicle, including camping gear, electronics, tools and prescription pills. The vehicle also contained tools commonly used to commit burglaries along with other evidence indicating that the suspect might have been selling narcotics.

According to information released by the sheriff's office, a deputy spotted the stolen vehicle near Clam Beach Drive. A man, who appeared to be using the vehicle, ran away into the brush. Multiple deputies responded to the scene, and they found him in the bushes. After searching his person, deputies reported that he had 11.3 grams of methamphetamine in his possession.

Multi-agency drug investigation in California leads to 12 arrests

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California reported on Dec. 6 that a multi-agency drug trafficking investigation has led to the indictment of 12 individuals by a federal grand jury. The individuals were taken into custody during several operations in November following an investigation involving the Fresno and Salinas Police Departments, the San Bernardino and Kings County Sheriff's Departments, the California Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The major breakthrough in the investigation, which was launched by the FPD in 2018, was made when DEA agents identified a 61-year-old Fresno man as a wholesale distributor of illegal drugs including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Wiretaps were then used to identify the man's associates. These allegedly included a 42-year-old Fresno man who is described in court papers as an illegal narcotics broker who distributed drugs using associates in Fresno, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Monterey counties. Agents also concluded that the drugs were being smuggled into the United States from narcotics traffickers working out of Mexicali, Mexico.

Former "American Idol" singer sentenced on drug charges

California residents might be surprised to learn that a federal judge recently sentenced former "American Idol" contestant Antonella Barba to 45 months in prison for the possession and distribution of opioids. The 32-year-old New Jersey native appeared on the series in 2007.

According to media reports, in October 2018, Barba was arrested in Norfolk, Virginia, after a police dog indicated the presence of drugs in her rental car. Law enforcement officers searched the vehicle and located a shoe box containing 830.9 grams of a "white, rock-like substance" on the front passenger floor. Tests later determined that the substance was fentanyl.

50 alleged California gang members taken into custody

On Nov. 19, California state law enforcement took 50 people into custody who were allegedly connected to the Nortenos street gang. The investigation started in August. Alleged gang members were said to have been involved in possessing and selling firearms, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder.

According to law enforcement, 25 pounds of drugs were seized, including methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and fentanyl. Eight assault weapons were also seized. Among other crimes, some of the suspects were said to be involved in the shooting of a 10-year-old boy in his backyard, and law enforcement reported that they had identified the individuals responsible.

2 California men face drug charges after fleeing traffic stop

Two men, age 19 and 25, remain jailed in Tulare County Jail after police in Visalia captured them for reportedly attempting to walk away from a traffic stop. A sergeant from the police department said that an officer stopped their vehicle near the intersection of Houston Avenue and Turner Street for a code violation. Officers caught up to the men eventually and arrested them.

Police searched the vehicle and reported finding about 4 pounds of marijuana and 200 pills. An officer said that the 19-year-old man dropped a loaded gun after fleeing the scene. The sergeant said that the suspect was prohibited from possessing firearms and has been charged with a weapons violation on top of drug charges.

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