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$8.5 Million in Cocaine, $40,000 in Cash Seized; 4 Men Held

Times Staff Writer

County drug investigators, assisted by units from Los Angeles and two other police jurisdictions, seized more than $8.5 million in cocaine and $40,000 in cash and arrested four men after a daylong surveillance, authorities said Thursday.

The suspects were arrested in Los Angeles late Wednesday afternoon by Los Angeles police on suspicion of possession of 384 pounds of cocaine for sale.

The suspects were identified as Jesus Bernal, 31, and Eduardo M. Hernandez, 26, both of Colombia, Eduin R. Barney, 28, of Miami, and Gustavo Garcia, 31, of Puerto Rico.

Capt. Tim Simon, head of the Orange County Regional Narcotics Suppression Program, said information that led to the arrests was obtained when agents from his office went to Santa Monica to arrest Richard S. Carrera, 26, on a federal warrant issued in New York charging him with conspiring to sell cocaine.

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Agents from the Orange County drug force--which includes officers from the county, 16 cities and four federal agencies--went to Los Angeles to pick up Carrera at the request of the New York office of the Drug Enforcement Agency, according to Simon.

“We found information on him pertaining to possible associates and clients, relating to a narcotics deal that was pending,” he said.

Assisted by Santa Monica police drug investigators, Simon said a surveillance was set up in Santa Monica near a florist shop on Pico Boulevard. While there, he said, the undercover officers saw an unidentified man give a package to an unidentified woman. The woman was followed to an area of Sepulveda Boulevard, where she handed the package to another man, who was later identified as Bernal.

Then officers found out that Bernal was under surveillance by a team of officers from the Los Angeles and Simi Valley police departments, Simon said. The police agencies then coordinatored their surveillance and followed Bernal to La Frite Restaurant on Ventura Boulevard.

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There, in the parking lot in the late afternoon, police said, Bernal exchanged vehicles with two other men men later identified as Barney and Hernandez.

The two vehicles were then driven to Pasadena via the San Diego Freeway. They stopped in a shopping center on Colorado Boulevard. Barney and Hernandez then drove to a house on South Oakland Street in Pasadena, parked the vehicle in the garage and stayed inside the house for 15 minutes, police said. They then drove back to Colorado and met again with Bernal.

That is when investigators approached the men, got permission to search the white Toyota and found a box containing 44 pounds of cocaine, according to police.

The three were arrested, then agents returned to Oakland Street, where Garcia was arrested at the house after officers found three large duffel bags containing 340 pounds of cocaine, police said.

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Carrera was booked into Orange County Jail and has been arraigned on the federal warrant. The package that was delivered to Bernal was also recovered and found to contain $40,000 in cash, police said.

Simon said the 384 pounds of cocaine seized had a street value of more than $8.5 million.


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