Agents target heroin-trafficking ring, arrest 12

Several East Palo Alto residents arrested in multi-agency operation

Twelve people were arrested in the Bay Area Tuesday as part of a multi-agency operation targeting an international heroin-trafficking ring.

Federal and state investigators served arrest warrants in East Palo Alto, Hayward and Oakland as part of a long-term operation, named "Operation Middle Man," that aimed to dismantle the Santa Clara County-based Carlos Jose Moreno drug trafficking organization -- a large-scale heroin and methamphetamine distributor, according to the state attorney general's office.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and officers with the Department of Justice-led South Bay Metro Task Force arrested the 12 suspects and seized nine guns and small quantities of marijuana and methamphetamine, the attorney general's officials said.

"By combining our resources, authorities and expertise, we've succeeded in dismantling a drug ring suspected of funneling significant quantities of heroin into the Bay Area and onto our streets," said Clark Settles, special agent in charge for ICE's Homeland Securities Investigations in San Francisco.

Law enforcement officials said undercover agents bought more than 3 pounds of heroin during the operation, which began in December 2009. The attorney general's office said the Moreno organization imported drugs through national and international trafficking sources to be distributed throughout the state and the U.S.

The organization is comprised of Norteno gang members with connections to Mexico and they distribute drugs around San Jose, East Palo Alto, Palo Alto and Redwood City, state officials said. Law enforcement officials said the crystal methamphetamine was manufactured in California's Central Valley and the heroin was imported from Mexico.

Those arrested Tuesday were East Palo Alto residents Jose Izabel Moreno, 26; Pearl Moreno, 27; Jose Arreguin, 21; Jose Macias, 25; Elizabeth Kovac, 23; Victor Hernandez, 23; and Edgar Enrique Bustos, 18; Hayward residents Johnny Chavez, 21, and Pedro Chavez Chavez, 36; and Oakland residents Joventino Lopez-Ortiz, 18, and Daniel Macias, 23. Jose Macias, Victor Hernandez and Pedro Chavez Chavez were in the United States illegally, a spokesperson for ICE said.

The suspects were booked into Santa Clara County Jail and are facing charges that include conspiracy, residential burglary, firearm sales, sale of methamphetamine and heroin and gang enhancements.

— Bay City News Service


Like this comment
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on May 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

Good job to everyone involved in this operation!
Keep up the good work!

Like this comment
Posted by buyers?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm

The article says these gangsters were selling heroin in Palo Alto. Is there a heroin problem here? Who are the buyers? High school students? Stanford students? Random adults? Are the cops going to target the buyers as well as the sellers?

Like this comment
Posted by Leo
a resident of Midtown
on May 16, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Good job!

Like this comment
Posted by Cop
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2012 at 3:40 pm

@buyers? I have to chuckle at your surprise that there is (gasp!)drug abuse in Palo Alto!
"Is there a heroin problem here?" YES, anywhere there is addiction there is a problem
"Who are the buyers?" Anyone. Addiction knows no "set group" it spans all levels of society.
"High school students?" Sure
"Stanford students?" Yes
"Random adults?" Of course
"Are the cops going to target the buyers as well as the sellers?" Users are arrested all the time, but nothing will treat the societal ills until they get help, usually ordered by the court.

Welcome to the real world that you never knew you lived in.

Like this comment
Posted by DDee
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Cop - well said.

Our current fiscal troubles can be a short-cut to understanding the "problem."

demand = suppliers
No demand, no vendors (or suppliers.

You want to solve the "problem?" Legalize and regulate all substances.
This will allow users to be open and public without fear of incarceration and make it easier for friends and family to help them get help/
Reduce the stigma associated with having gotten help/
Reduce or eliminate the huge finacial gain of running drugs/
Provide a source of income to public coffers (now it is one of the biggest sources of drain insofar as the resources and manpower it takes to detect, arrest and incarcerate traffickers and users)/
De-escalate the arms and drug war on the US-Mexico border.

Staying with our tried and failed policies only will become a bigger problem and a never-ending trail of such arrests and operations because it is lucrative for those in the right place and who live liong enough to benefit from their crime, and good paying blue collar jobs that could compete with this life no longer exist in sufficient numbers for large parts of the male or female population to be able to support themselves with.

Sorry Palo ALto, I know we like to think of ourselves as better than, and more enlightened, but alas...

Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2012 at 8:28 pm


You are 200% right, but it will never happen.

Right-wingers aren't the reason, the criminal justice industry is the reason. Without the "fodder" they get from drug laws, their ranks could be cut by 25% or more.

They know it. They will never let it happen.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Buyers? - there is heroin at every level of society. As an expensive drug, a lot of wealthier people get hooked on it. People commit crimes to get the $$ to buy it. The majority of people I've known who were heroin users were:

-From middle class, upper middle class & well-off backgrounds
-They all lived on the peninsula
-Some smoked it, some used IVs
-All were addicts
-1 was a school teacher, 2 worked at a nightclub, 1 owned - & lost, a small business, the rest I don't know as it depended on if they were still using or not.
-Only 1 was actively using when I knew him. He was a beautiful young man who lived in Palo Alto. He was a friend of a friend & I found out later that he was a user. Dunno what happened to him.

I knew a lot of cocaine users in Palo alto as a teen here. Even though it was considered glamorous, I always thought of it as seedy & sleazy. We used to call Univ Ave "Coke Avenue" because of all the coke head teenagers who lived in the big houses.

Since your county is the hub for the local cartels, just realize that its users are scattered throughout Sili Valley.

Like this comment
Posted by kris
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 20, 2012 at 5:27 am

Legalize drugs solve crime problem? Never! People who hurt others, commit murders, thefts- and so on- don't need drugs for an excuse to do wrong. There will always be evil on earth. Sure, I agree that less jail time and more social diversions/assistance for drug abusers, but to think that legalizing it is the answer is sorely misinformed. I heard from some one that legalization of hard drugs would "solve" the horrible number of murders in Mexico. Really?? Suddenly, those with no sense of morality would magically become wonderful caring human beings if only the drugs were legal.. do you see where I am going here? The issue is not that drugs are illegal- it's the fact that this so called War on Drugs is only a catch phrase. We COULD stop the drugs shipments coming in to the US.. we COULD stop the dealing. The real fact is, it's NOT being stopped. To lackadaisically decriminalize drugs is sadistic- the ones using it don't care if they're illegal, because they use them anyway. The sad fact is they end up dead with overdoses and other health problems, not to mention the psychological damages resulting from the use of drugs. Do NOT buy into the "legalize it" crowd, it's just plain wrong.

Like this comment
Posted by Sancha
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 21, 2012 at 1:39 am

I know most of the people that got arrested. whats crazy is that they're making the main man sound like he was a real hardcore dealer, (lol,NOT!) when they're house is deteriorrating and aren't living in any way fabulous or whatever.. damn this situation got SO EXAGGERATED! Damn cops & media need to get on their $hit cause it's so much worse elsewhere.. not excusing the behavior but well, lo que sera sera.. o.O

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm

We need a 2 track program

1 Death penalty for major dealers in possession of more than 1000 doses
the death penalty should occur within 90 days of conviction

2 A public heath approach for users if they declare the identity of the dealers.

Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2012 at 11:59 pm


You will never get a death penalty for the same reason DDee will never get drugs legalised.

Actually getting rid of criminals (real or imagined) would eliminate the need for much of the criminal justice industry.

They know it. They will never let it happen.

The anti-death penalty people argue that it is cheaper to jail a person for life than to put them to death. While that is true, they completely miss the point. The fact that it is cheaper is an indication of how we "sheeple" have allowed the criminal justice industry to hyjack our legal system for their own benefit, and to the detriment of society in general.

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