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Briefly In Public Safety

Detectives get ‘Case of Year’ honors

Laguna Beach Police Detectives Darin Germaine and Larry Bammer received the Orange County Narcotic Officers Assn. 2009 “Street Narcotics Case of the Year” award at a special ceremony held Sept. 16, according to Sgt. Louise Callus.


The two narcotics officers were honored for an investigation that led over several months to the arrest of six suspects, and the confiscation of more than 9,200 Ecstasy tablets, about 1.5 pounds of psilocybin mushrooms, 2,200 tablets of LSD and more than a kilogram of ketamine, in addition to about $66,000 in cash forfeiture.

The case involved the cities of Huntington Beach, Brea, Anaheim, Tustin and Fullerton, according to Callus. DEA agents and law enforcement officers from various cities were also involved.


The investigation began with an undercover drug buy in February from a suspect believed to be connected to larger traffickers. The detectives then asked for the assistance of the DEA and continued to conduct surveillance on the target until leads were developed on two different traffickers who were allegedly supplying the primary suspect. Detectives learned that one of the larger traffickers was believed to be shipping ecstasy to Hawaii and Texas via a postal service, Callus stated.

In April, the detectives and DEA agents arrested the primary target in Tustin, who agreed to identify two larger drug traffickers. An arrangement was made with the Costa Mesa Police Department Narcotics Team to conduct surveillance in Huntington Beach on the trafficker believed to be shipping ecstasy to Hawaii.

After observing a cocaine transaction between this trafficker and another customer in Huntington Beach, DEA agents and the detectives, joined by the Costa Mesa police surveillance team, seized more than 4,200 Ecstasy pills, psilocybin, LSD and ketamine, and more than $35,000 in cash at this location, according to Callus.

Detectives and DEA agents then drove to Brea and arrested a suspect on suspicion of selling ecstasy. At that location, more than 2,500 Ecstasy pills, a pound of psilocybin, LSD, ketamine and almost $4,000 in cash was seized.


Leads from the Brea location led to a Fullerton business where, with the assistance of the Fullerton Police Department Gang Unit, an alleged female Asian gang associate was arrested on suspicion of possessing 2,000 Ecstasy pills.

Following up on leads from the Brea arrest, a search warrant was served on an Anaheim resident suspected of drug sales. At the Anaheim location, detectives seized about 2,000 hits of LSD, a kilogram of ketamine, miscellaneous psilocybin, and more than $24,000 in cash.

Additional follow up from the original target led to a different supplier and yielded another arrest and seizure of about 300 Ecstasy pills and $1,850 in cash. In all, six suspects were arrested on state drug trafficking charges and the Huntington Beach suspect was federally indicted on drug trafficking charges, according to Callus.



Vending machine destroyed in theft

A restaurant vending machine was destroyed by someone who removed the front hinges of the front panel and stole $150 in coins, Lt. Louise Callus said.

The theft was reported at Tivoli Terrace on the Festival of Arts grounds at 8:37 a.m. Sept. 15. The vending machine is estimated at $2,700.


Non-working scooter stolen

A non-working electric scooter was reported stolen from the driveway of a home in the 1000 block of Miramar Street at 2:37 p.m. Saturday, Callus said. The scooter had a rear wheel missing and was being offered for sale as parts. The scooter was valued at $25.


Man accused of stealing liquor

A 41-year-old man, who police say is homeless, was arrested on suspicion of burglary and public intoxication after police saw him fall down while walking in the Boat Canyon Drive and North Coast Highway area, Callus said.

Officers allegedly found a bottle of liquor with the security cap still attached to it and determined through video surveillance tapes that the bottle had been stolen from a nearby supermarket.

The suspect, Richard Alan Mayer, was held on a burglary charge after police found only $1 in his possession, indicating he did not have enough money to buy the liquor. Mayer was held on $20,000 bail at Orange County jail, according to jail records.


Man arrested in cocaine sales case

A Laguna Niguel man was arrested in Laguna Hills on suspicion of selling cocaine at 3:24 p.m. Sept. 15, Callus said.

Nicolas Edward Carrafield, 20, was stopped in his car after leaving the residence. Police allegedly found 96 grams of cocaine and $1,000 in his possession.


Driver accused of endangering passengers

A Lake Forest man, who was apparently upset at not being able to visit his mother at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach, was arrested on suspicion of reckless driving and child endangerment at 10:42 p.m. Tuesday in downtown Laguna Beach, Callus said.

Gregory Leon Hightower II, 21, was reportedly traveling at about 80mph and weaving in and out of traffic in the Aliso Beach area, heading northbound on the Coast Highway.

Police officers could not catch up to him until he stopped at a red light at Broadway. When officers stopped the vehicle, they found three passengers in the vehicle, an 18-year-old female, a 17-year-old female and a 16-year-old female. Hightower was held on $100,000 bail at Orange County Jail, according to jail records.


Cook accused of chasing co-worker with knife

A 28-year-old cook was arrested at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday after allegedly chasing his co-worker down the street with a knife, Callus said.

Police called to the vicinity of Cress and Glenneyre streets located the suspect’s vehicle and allegedly found a 9-inch chef’s knife in the trunk. The victim and a witness identified Juan Carlos Cruz Soto as the suspect. Soto was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, DUI, and driving without a license. He was taken to Orange County Jail, where he was held without bail. Soto was employed as a cook, according to jail records.