What to Know
- Thirteen people were arrested and more than $10 million worth of illegal drugs were seized as part of a year-long crackdown.
- Those arrested include high-ranking members of a drug ring centered in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles.
- Large quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and fentanyl were smuggled in from Sinaloa, Mexico.
A multi-agency investigation into drug trafficking in Los Angeles and Ventura counties led to the arrests of more than a dozen suspects, including a San Fernando Valley man alleged to be the organization's ringleader, authorities said today.
Ventura County Sheriff's Department officials said the suspects in the narcotics operation are believed to be linked to the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel.
"This is an organization where the dope was coming straight from the Sinaloa area to storage areas in L.A. and then transferring from there," Ventura County Undersheriff Gary Pentis said a news conference announcing the arrests.
Sheriff's officials said the arrests of 13 suspects on suspicion of various drug sales and weapons-possession allegations helped dismantle a "Los Angeles-based drug trafficking organization."
The operation started in September of 2017, when detectives from the Ventura County Combined Agency Task Force began investigating a Los Angeles County resident who was suspected of dealing "bulk-quantities of narcotics" to people in Ventura County, sheriff's Capt. Garo Kuredjian said.
"During this investigation, detectives learned that the source of narcotics was Omar Rangel, 29 ... a San Fernando Valley resident," Kuredjian said. "Rangel was the leader of a Los Angeles-based drug trafficking organization, which involved numerous persons," Kuredjian said in a statement.
"This drug trafficking organization was found to be moving substantial quantities of narcotics originating from a drug cartel in Sinaloa, Mexico, and then distributing the drugs to bulk-quantity traffickers in Los Angeles and Ventura counties."
Rangel was among those arrested in the crackdown. A dozen other people were arrested, most of them from Los Angeles County, while two other suspects are still being sought.
Detectives served numerous narcotics-related search warrants, resulting in the seizure of 161 pounds of methamphetamine, 121 pounds of cocaine, 13.2 pounds of heroin, 6.6 pounds of fentanyl, 600 fentanyl pills, more than $353,000 in drug-sales proceeds, and 12 firearms, Kuredjian said.
The combined street value of the seized drugs was more than $10.8 million. The Ventura County Combined Task Force is made up of members from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies who work collaboratively to identify, disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute major narcotics trafficking organizations.