SANTA ANA (CBSLA) – Nine Southland residents are charged with being involved in complex year-long scheme to send methamphetamine to Hawaii using decorative Aztec calendars and statues.
Eight suspects, six of whom are Orange County residents, were rounded up by federal authorities Tuesday on various drug charges. A ninth suspect was already in custody on an unrelated case, the Department of Justice said in a news release.
The nine suspects, eight men and a woman, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 10.
According to prosecutors, on July 17, investigators intercepted an attempt to send 11.7 kilograms of pure meth from a Garden Grove post office by hiding the drug in a shipment of decorative Mexican items, including replicas of a 500-year-old Aztec calendar stone.
Over the past year, two other shipments — one that contained five pounds of meth and a second which contained two pounds – were also intercepted.
The suspects were identified as:
— Vaimanino Lee Pomele, 49, of Garden Grove.
— Alejandra Pomele, 44, of Garden Grove, who is Vaimanino’s wife.
— Fernando Caballero Rascon, 42, of Garden Grove.
— James Arnold Borbon, 58, of Garden Grove.
— Moises Rey Avina, 39, of Santa Ana.
— Stephen Dgewell Martin, 30, of Anaheim
— Felix Salgado, 28, of Perris.
— Gary Wayne Minter, 55, of Victorville.
— German Bastidas Nunez, 46, of Moreno Valley, was already in custody.
If convicted, each faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison. The case is being investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Cypress Police Department.