What to Know
- According to the complaint, text messages between deputy and another conspirator show a payment for aiding in drug search.
- If convicted of this offense, each man would face between five and 40 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Three men were arrested Thursday on federal drug distribution charges alleging they conspired with a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy and others to steal more than 1,200 pounds of marijuana and $645,000 in cash and money orders during an armed robbery of a downtown Los Angeles warehouse.
Matthew James "Neer" Perez, 42, of Ontario, Daniel Aguilera, 31, of East Los Angeles, and Jay Colby "Monte Jay" Sanford, 41, of Pomona, were arrested without incident, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
They were scheduled to make their initial court appearances Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles federal court.
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According to a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday, Perez, Aguilera and Sanford conspired with Deputy Marc Antrim, 41, of South El Monte, and others to commit the early morning armed robbery on Oct. 29.
The off-duty Antrim, along with Perez and a third man arrived at the warehouse before dawn in an unmarked Ford Explorer registered to the LASD, prosecutors allege.
All three men were dressed as LASD deputies, were carrying holstered firearms, and posed as legitimate law enforcement officers executing a search warrant of the warehouse, court documents state.
Perez, a convicted felon, also allegedly brandished a rifle. The warehouse search was allegedly staged to look like law enforcement was executing a search warrant, according to federal prosecutors.
After Antrim detained the warehouse's three security guards inside the LASD Ford Explorer, Aguilera drove a large rental truck into the warehouse parking lot, which later was used to transport the stolen marijuana, two cash-filled safes and other items from the warehouse, according to court documents.
During the robbery, Sanford allegedly served as a nearby look-out, scouting for potential law enforcement and remaining in contact with his co-conspirators via phone and walkie-talkie radios.
While the two-hour robbery was in progress, Los Angeles Police Department officers legitimately responded to a call for service at the warehouse, the complaint states.
When LAPD officers arrived, Perez and the other man posing as a deputy discarded their LASD jackets and fled through a back door, along with Aguilera, according to court documents.
Antrim allegedly remained at the warehouse, showed the LAPD officers his LASD badge, and falsely claimed that he was conducting a legitimate search, according to court documents.
Antrim then allegedly handed his phone to one of the LAPD officers so that the officer could speak to someone on the phone claiming to be Antrim's LASD sergeant.
According to court documents, however, the individual on the phone was not Antrim's sergeant, and Antrim did not have a legitimate search warrant for the warehouse.
Antrim's falsehoods ultimately prompted the LAPD officers to leave the warehouse, thereby allowing Antrim and his co-conspirators time to complete the heist, court documents allege.
According to the complaint, text messages between Antrim and another conspirator suggest that, for their assistance the night of the robbery, Perez was going to be paid $30,000, Sanford $10,000, and Aguilera $5,000.
Perez, Aguilera and Sanford are charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. If convicted of this offense, each man would face between five and 40 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Antrim and two other men who allegedly participated in the robbery were arrested in November. They since have signed plea agreements admitting to drug trafficking and gun charges related to the sham search, and are expected to enter guilty pleas before a federal judge in the coming weeks.