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Judge Withholds Name of Informant in Cocaine Bust

Times Staff Writer

A North County Municipal Court judge on Friday denied a defense motion to have a confidential informant, on whose tip 10 South Americans were arrested in the state’s largest cocaine seizure case, appear in court.

Instead, Judge Richard L. Weatherspoon said a Los Angeles police detective who led raids at residences in Placentia, Fullerton and Anaheim could “offer sufficient evidence” on the investigation that led to the arrests and seizure of 1,784 pounds of cocaine.

The cadre of attorneys representing the 10 suspects, in individual pleas to the judge, contended that the informant had to provide them with more information about the quick investigation that culminated in the arrests and seizures at five locations on April 4.

Earlier in the day, Weatherspoon had turned down a defense request for the prosecution to hand over documents containing details about the informant.

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Contention by Defense

Michael McDonnell, one of the attorneys, said that the informant had been part of the cocaine smuggling scheme.

“We consider the informant an unindicted co-conspirator,” the attorney said.

But prosecutor James M. Brooks said the informant had identified only one residence and one suspect.

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“Everyone claims the confidential informant is part of the conspiracy. There was no intention to conspire by the informant,” Brooks said.

On Thursday, Brooks had said that revealing that information could endanger the informant’s life.

“We will not give up a human life in exchange for 10 defendants,” Brooks said Thursday. “We have their (cocaine) and their money, and we will not sacrifice a human being.”

Won’t Reveal Identity

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Brooks said the case would be dropped before the prosecution would reveal the informant’s identity.

Before denying the motion to have the informant at least quizzed by the defense attorneys, Weatherspoon met privately for more than an hour Friday with Brooks and Robert Gosnell, the detective who led the raids.

McDonnell said he did not know if the defense teams will attempt any more motions to have the informant appear in court.

Gosnell said the informant is very “knowledgeable” and has helped the Los Angeles Police Department in major drug investigations. He would not say how many cases the informant has worked on nor how long he has provided information to drug agents.

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“The name of the confidential informant will never be revealed,” the detective said.

The pretrial hearing will continue on Tuesday when Gosnell is expected to testify about the investigation that led to arrests of the 10 suspects.


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