Five Ventura County residents who thought that they were arranging for delivery of a package wound up getting a trip to jail instead, unsuspecting participants in a district attorney's office sting constructed to arrest those who had failed to make child support payments.
The operation began earlier this month when 75 letters were mailed, informing suspects that there were packages waiting for them. They were instructed to call a fictitious delivery service to arrange for delivery, said Robert Velasquez, a senior investigator in the district attorney's office.
Of those contacted, 18 called the service and five were home when investigators showed up for the delivery appointments, Velasquez said.
Once the investigators arrived and checked the person's identification to make sure it matched the arrest warrant, the suspects were arrested and taken to Ventura County Jail, Velasquez said. The operation was conducted last week.
Arrested were Bradford Harper, 32, of Camarillo; Jessie Gutierrez, 30, and Judith Gutierrez, 54, both of Oxnard; Anthony Burboa, 32, of Santa Paula and Eugene Gomez, 24, of Ventura.
Velasquez said the people were not overly suspicious about the arrival of an unexpected parcel because the sting was conducted around the holidays.
"There were some questions asked, but we told them that we were only a delivery service and we had no idea where the package came from or what it was," Velasquez said. "One person even called back to find out how much we would charge to ship something somewhere."