Arleta : Man Accused of Selling Stolen Goods

Los Angeles police arrested an Arleta swap-meet owner Thursday for receiving and reselling over-the-counter drugs, batteries and other small-sized items stolen from markets in the northeast San Fernando Valley, authorities said.

Manuel Perez, co-owner of La Colmena Swap Meet, had been buying cold medicine, headache pills and rolls of Fuji and Kodak film from a crew of small-time criminals for at least two months, police said, before he was caught in a sting operation directed by LAPD detectives.

Offering to buy more than $600 worth of merchandise from undercover officers for just $35 on Thursday, the 39-year-old Perez saw the end of a profitable stolen-goods clearinghouse that used local drug addicts desperate for money as its suppliers, LAPD Foothill Division Detective James Vojtecky said.


According to Vojtecky, police began to suspect that a fence operation existed somewhere in the area through a rise in petty thefts taking place at local stores during the last several months.

Responding to a tip received from a person arrested for one of those crimes, Vojtecky said police soon learned that a number of drug addicts in the area were ripping off small markets and convenience stores and selling their booty for quick cash. That information, Vojtecky continued, led police to Perez.