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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Results of Multi-agency Operation Targeting Bay Area Heroin Trafficking Ring

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837

SAN JOSE -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the arrest of 12 individuals involved in a Bay Area heroin trafficking ring by the Department of Justice-led South Bay Metro Task Force and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI).

State and federal investigators arrested 12 suspects and seized 9 guns and small amounts of marijuana and methamphetamine today, as a result of a long-term investigation called “Operation Middle Man.”

The execution of the search and arrest warrants today marks the culmination of a two and half year investigation dubbed “Operation Middle Man” because the initial targets identified during the case were found to be mid-level operatives. Those suspects ultimately led authorities to Carlos Jose Moreno, the suspected head of a transnational criminal drug trafficking organization.

“Transnational gangs have become a top public safety threat as they increasingly traffic guns, drugs and human beings into California,” said Attorney General Harris. “I commend the members of the South Bay Metro Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations for their work in identifying and arresting these gang-affiliated suspects”

The operation is part of an ongoing effort by Attorney General Harris designed to attack gang violence and transnational gangs. The South Bay Metro Task Force is one of 28 California Department of Justice led task forces that coordinate the response to our state’s growing gang and drug trafficking problems. Operation Middle Man was initiated to disrupt and dismantle the Santa Clara County-based Carlos Jose Moreno drug trafficking organization (DTO), and to arrest and prosecute its members.

“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 HSI San Francisco. “This case shows yet again why federal and state collaboration is crucial to promoting public safety and protecting the welfare of our communities.”

“This multi-jurisdictional investigation is one example of our successful efforts to dismantle violent drug trafficking organizations that threaten our community,” said Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeffrey F. Rosen.

Utilizing undercover officers and other investigative techniques, agents purchased more than three pounds of heroin. The investigations targeted Carlos Jose Moreno, a large-scale heroin and methamphetamine distributor in the San Jose, East Palo Alto, Palo Alto and Redwood City areas. Moreno’s DTO imported narcotics through international and national drug trafficking sources for the purpose of redistributing the drugs through California and the United States. The heroin was imported from sources in Mexico, while the crystal methamphetamine was manufactured in the Central Valley area of California. The Moreno DTO is comprised of Norteño gang members with connections to Mexico.

During the operation, which began in December 2009, agents served 12 state arrest warrants and six state search warrants in the East Palo Alto, Hayward and Oakland areas. To date, the investigation has resulted in 12 arrests, and seizure of 9 guns (three shotguns, three rifles and three handguns), and small amounts of marijuana and methamphetamine. Those arrested during Tuesday’s operation will be booked into the Santa Clara County Jail and face state charges ranging from conspiracy, residential burglary, firearms sales, sale of methamphetamine and heroin and gang enhancements. They include:

Jose Izabel Moreno of Palo Alto, DOB: 4/2/1986; Pearl Moreno of Palo Alto, DOB: 3/17/85; Johnny Chavez of Palo Alto, DOB: 3/5/1991; Pedro Chavez Chavez of Mexico, DOB: 6/17/1975; Jose Arreguin of Palo Alto, DOB: 4/5/1991; Daniel Macias of Mexico, DOB: 2/4/1989; Jose Macias of Palo Alto, DOB: 3/28/1987; Carlos Moreno, DOB: 8/3/1983: Elizabeth Kovac of Palo Alto, DOB: 5/25/1988; Joventino Lopez-Ortiz of Palo Alto, DOB: 9/5/1993; Victor Hernandez of Palo Alto, DOB: 1/8/1989; and Edgar Enrique Bustos of Palo Alto, DOB: 3/4/1994.

Photos of weapons seized during today’s operation are attached to the electronic form of this press release at www.oag.ca.gov.

The investigation is a collaborative effort led by California Department of Justice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and assisted by, Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office, and San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force.

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