Pair Arraigned in $15-Million Calexico Drug Seizure

Associated Press

An Orange County man and a woman have been arraigned on federal drug charges following the largest cocaine seizure in the history of the Calexico Port of Entry.

The charges included transportation, possession and intent to distribute cocaine, heroin and marijuana valued at more than $15 million.

Arraigned Monday in U.S District Court in El Centro were John Rund, 33, of San Clemente, and Cathie Weber, 31, who had no known address. Each was charged with transportation, possession and intent to distribute 60.4 pounds of cocaine, which had been seized Sunday at the Calexico Port of Entry.

William Fernandes, case agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said that to his knowledge it was the largest cocaine seizure in the history of the Calexico border crossing in Imperial County.

Federal narcotics agents said the cocaine, discovered in the side panels of a car, had an estimated street value of $10.7 million.

Also arraigned Monday before U.S. Magistrate Joseph Schmitt were Leonardo Gomez-Galvez, 29, of Santa Ana, and Mary Louise Portillo of El Monte.

Gomez was charged with transportation and possession of 1 1/2 pounds of heroin, valued at $5 million, that had been seized Friday by customs agents.

Portillo was charged with possession and transportation of 54 pounds of marijuana, also seized Friday and valued between $20,000 and $27,000.

Schmitt set bail for Rund, Weber and Gomez at $500,000 each and for Portillo at $10,000. Grand jury indictments are expected against all four people.

Terry Bowen, special agent-in-charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's office in Calexico, said the cocaine appeared to have been processed by three separate South American dealers. The individual packages, each weighing about one kilogram, were packed between plywood and tightly wrapped in paper and plastic wrap.

Known as "Peruvian flake," the cocaine is believed to have been flown from South America to a pickup location in Mexico for transport to the United States.

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