Sweep Nets Half-Ton of Cocaine and 7 Suspects

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nearly half a ton of cocaine, with a street value of $130 million, was seized and seven people were arrested in a widespread operation reaching from the San Joaquin Valley to Culver City, officials said Tuesday.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block told a press conference in San Dimas that the San Gabriel Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team arrested six men and a woman in the sweep, which also yielded 2.2 pounds of heroin and $100,000 in cash.

"If you think this is going to cut down the amount of dope around here, it won't," Block said. "There's just too much coming in."

The operation began Monday evening with the arrest of Mary Carmen Altamirano, 34, on Interstate 5 north of Bakersfield, according to authorities. Investigators said they found 218 pounds of cocaine in the van she was driving.

Members of the Narcotics Enforcement Team--composed of sheriff's deputies and officers from 11 San Gabriel Valley police departments--served search warrants in the Los Angeles area and in Bakersfield early Tuesday morning and arrested the others.

Officers said they discovered another 726 pounds of cocaine in Culver City and arrested three suspects there, identified as Jesus Arnolfo Astroga, 42; Raul Galvan Arevalo, 23, and Cesar Beltran Ramos, 20.

Two others, Jesus Borboa Valdez, 30, and Moises Asparga Valensuela, were arrested in Los Angeles, where the heroin was found, according to investigators, and another man, Carlos Napoleon Molina, 22, was arrested in Bakersfield.

The suspects were booked on charges of possessing narcotics for sale and were ordered held on $2 million bail each.

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