Drug Shipping Ring Disguised Meth as Decorative Aztec Sculptures

The meth-laden sculptures included replicas of a 500-year-old Aztec calendar stone

Nine people are behind bars for allegedly conspiring to ship methamphetamine to Hawaii, including some drugs that were disguised as decorative Aztec calendars and statues.

Eight people were arrested Tuesday morning in connection with a nine-defendant federal indictment. The ninth person -- Moreno Valley resident German Bastidas Nunez, 46 -- was already in custody on an unrelated case, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Federal authorities contend the group made at least three shipments of drugs to Hawaii over the past year, but all were intercepted by law enforcement. The group tried to send one package with two pounds of meth to Hawaii, and another with nearly five pounds, prosecutors said.

On July 17, the group allegedly tried to ship 11.7 kilograms of meth to Hawaii from a Garden Grove post office as part of a nearly 90-pound shipment that included drug-laden Mexican decorative items, including replicas of a 500-year-old Aztec calendar stone, according to federal prosecutors.

The defendants arrested Tuesday were:

-- Felix Salgado, 28, of Perris;

-- Vaimanino Lee Pomele, 49, of Garden Grove;

-- Fernando Caballero Rascon, 42, of Garden Grove;

-- James Arnold Borbon, 58, of Garden Grove;

-- Moises Rey Avina, 39, of Santa Ana;

-- Alejandra Pomele, 44, of Garden Grove;

-- Stephen Dgewell Martin, 30, of Anaheim; and

-- Gary Wayne Minter, 55, of Victorville.

All nine face possible sentences of at least five years in prison, ranging up to several decades behind bars, prosecutors said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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