6 Indicted in Record Seizure of Cocaine
A federal grand jury Tuesday indicted six men arrested in the wake of the Sept. 28 raid at a Sylmar warehouse that yielded $12.2 million in cash and 21.4 tons of cocaine, the largest drug seizure ever.
Charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine were the two alleged ringleaders, former Mexican customs official Carlos Tapia Ponce, 68, of Juarez, Mexico, and his son, Hector Tapia Anchondo, 38, of El Paso, along with three men they allegedly hired to operate the warehouse. Authorities say the location received 60 tons of cocaine over an 18-month period. The sixth defendant is charged with receiving 20 kilograms of the cocaine.
U.S. Atty. Gary A. Feess said records discovered in the warehouse “are undergoing intense scrutiny” and that there may be additional arrests.
The drugs originated in Colombia and were shipped to Los Angeles through Mexico, El Paso, and Ruidoso, N.M., according to the indictment.
Arraignment for the six men, who are being held without bail, was tentatively scheduled for Monday. They face possible life sentences if convicted, and the five-count indictment also asks for forfeiture of the cash--exactly $12,278,237--and six vehicles seized from the defendants, including a 1989 Porsche.
Ponce and Anchondo were brought to Los Angeles on Saturday from Las Vegas, where they were arrested a day after the Sylmar raid.