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Orange County drug ring shipped meth to Hawaii disguised as Aztec statues, prosecutors say

Orange County drug ring shipped meth to Hawaii disguised as Aztec statues, prosecutors say
An agent holds a block of methamphetamine disguised as an Aztec calendar seized in a raid. Nine members of an alleged Southern California drug trafficking ring are accused of shipping the contraband to Hawaii. (U.S. attorney's office)

Nine members of a Southern California drug trafficking ring accused of disguising methamphetamine as decorative Aztec calendars and statues to ship the drug to Hawaii are behind bars, federal authorities said Tuesday.

A grand jury last week indicted Felix Salgado, 28, of Perris; German Bastidas Nunez, 46, of Moreno Valley; Moises Rey Avina, 39, of Santa Ana; Gary Wayne Minter, 55, of Victorville; Stephen Dgewell Martin, 30, of Anaheim; and Vaimanino Lee Pomele, 49, and his wife, Alejandra Pomele, 44; Fernando Caballero Rascon, 42; and James Arnold Borbon, 58, all of Garden Grove.

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Nearly two pounds of methamphetamine were shipped to Hawaii from a FedEx store in Santa Ana in January, according to the indictment filed in federal court.

In April, members of the group are accused of sending nearly five pounds of meth that had been packed inside bags of ground coffee to Hawaii from a FedEx store in Cypress.

And in July, the ring shipped a larger amount of meth — about 25 pounds — to the island. The drugs were disguised as colorful, decorative items, including replicas of 500-year-old Aztec calendar stones and statues, the indictment states.

Authorities intercepted all three shipments.

Each defendant faces one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, three counts of possession with intent to distribute meth, two counts of use of a communication facility to facilitate a narcotics offense and one count of aiding and abetting, according to the indictment.

If convicted, they face a minimum sentence of at least five years in prison, according to prosecutors.

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