Police Arrest 8, Seize Cash, Cocaine Worth $16 Million

Times Staff Writer

A team of 26 police officers from Torrance and Redondo Beach raided five homes Tuesday night, seizing 356 pounds of cocaine, seven cars and $750,000 in cash and arresting seven men and one woman on suspicion of conspiring to distribute cocaine.

The cocaine, valued at about $16.2 million, was the third major cache that Torrance detectives have helped to seize this year, police said. Loads of more than 500 pounds of cocaine each were seized in February and May.

After this week’s seizures, an American woman and seven men--four Mexican nationals and three Cubans--were being held on $2-million bail each pending their arraignment today.

The operation began about one week ago with a tip from an informant that cocaine was being stored in a house in the 23300 block of Anza Avenue in south Torrance, said Police Sgt. Gary LaCroix.


LaCroix gave the following account:

Detectives staking out the Anza Avenue address followed a man who left the home Wednesday night. The suspect, later identified as Manuel A. Suastegui of Cuba, met with another Cuban, Anthony Delvizo, and the two eventually made their way to two homes in Hawaiian Gardens. The pair allegedly loaded cocaine from the houses into a car, stopping at a home in Cerritos on their way back to Torrance.

Delvizo’s car was stopped by two Torrance police patrol cars early Wednesday, LaCroix said. A search of the trunk revealed 229 pounds of cocaine, he said.

Shortly after that, police raided the two homes in Hawaiian Gardens, the Cerritos home, the Torrance home and a fifth house, also on Anza Avenue.


Detectives found another 127 pounds of cocaine at the Hawaiian Gardens homes and discovered large amounts of cash in all but one of the homes, LaCroix said.

Police said it appeared that the houses on Anza Avenue were going to be used as storage and distribution centers for cocaine.

Arrested along with Delvizo, 50, and Suastegui, 35, were Julio C. Balmaceda, 30, of Cuba, and the four Mexicans--Arnaldo Cuevas Zaisar, 33, Arnaldo Cordoba Zaisar, 52, Juan C. Contreras, 19, and Hector M. Ramos, 20. All four live in Hawaiian Gardens, as does the American suspect, Denise A. Ramos, 22.