4 People Held, $1.5 Million Seized in Drug Raid : Crime: The cash was found in a safe under the patio of a house in Orange. The four are suspected of leading a nationwide ring selling crack cocaine and PCP.
Four people suspected of leading a major crack cocaine and PCP distribution ring are in custody after federal agents raided a house in Orange and seized more than $1.5 million in suspected drug profits from a safe buried beneath a patio there, authorities said Wednesday.
Agents discovered the safe, authorities said, when they smashed through the cement patio during the raid of the split-level house in the 800 block of South Yorba Street. The house is believed to be owned and used by members of one of the nation’s biggest drug trafficking organizations, authorities said.
Patrick Johnson, 27, of Orange, who authorities said owns the house and who they believe is the ringleader of the organization, was arrested. He was charged with drug trafficking and conspiracy Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
The others arrested in connection with the case and charged in the federal complaint were identified only as Tyrone Hall, Derek Burkes and Oscar Mellado.
All four remain in federal custody in Los Angeles pending the outcome of a detention hearing to determine whether they will be held without bail.
Seven other men are named in the complaint, but they have not been apprehended.
Authorities also searched two other properties over the weekend in which Johnson has an interest.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Monica Bachner described the ring as a “significant source of cocaine and PCP distribution throughout the country.”
The ring was reportedly based in Compton and distributed 500 kilograms of cocaine, 100 gallons of phencyclidine (known as PCP) and between 10 and 15 kilograms of heroin a month, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
The organization includes members of the Compton-based Crips street gang, court documents say.
According to court documents, Johnson allegedly established the organization in 1983 and extended its business nationwide to include major cities such as Washington, Detroit, Honolulu and Dallas.
Johnson, according to information provided by an unnamed federal informant, owns many commercial and rental properties in California, among them a construction company, an auto body shop and a liquor store. According to court papers, the informant also said Johnson owns a ranch in San Bernardino and that he once manufactured PCP there.
According to an affidavit filed by Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Phillip E. Jefferson, Johnson laundered money, allegedly with the assistance of an individual who operates a real estate company that Johnson owns, by purchasing, renovating and reselling residential properties.
The affidavit says that Johnson told the informant that he would receive multikilogram shipments of cocaine from Colombian suppliers in Texas and would then arrange to have those delivered to other cities.
The informant, according to the affidavit, also claims to have been present at an apartment in Carson when Johnson and others suspected of being members of the organization received a package of several million dollars in cash from local drug distributors.
If convicted of the drug trafficking and conspiracy charges, the four men could face maximum terms of life in prison without possibility of parole, authorities said.