ONDCP Web Site About ONDCP News and Public Affairs Policy Drug Facts Publications Related Links
Prevention Treatment Science and Technology Enforcement State and Local International Funding

2004 National HIDTA Program Award

Los Angeles HIDTA - INland Crackdown Allied Task Force

In September 2003, an investigative lead was passed to INCA Task Force from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Special Operations Division (SOD) via DEA Los Angeles Field Division, Southwest Border Group Three (SWB-3). The lead consisted of three (909) area code phone numbers with information that the numbers were in contact with a large drug trafficking organization based in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Based on toll analysis and investigation, including the use of the Regional Information Sharing System, through the Western State Information Network database, the DEA Multiple Source Query, and El Paso Intelligence Center checks, the phone numbers were determined to be in contact with numerous previously identified narcotics related telephones. On October 31, 2003, a California state wiretap was obtained targeting two of the numbers passed in the SOD lead. Soon after monitoring began, it was determined the same individual, identified as Salvador MENDOZA, was using both phones.

In December 2003, based on intercepted communications, a vehicle was identified by the INCA Task Force, which was believed to contain a load of cocaine enroute to New York. At INCA request, officers of the California Highway Patrol, in Victorville, California, stopped the vehicle. The vehicle was found to have hidden compartments, which contained 46 kilograms of cocaine. The driver was arrested and prosecuted in California state court and pled guilty.

Additionally in December 2003, intercepted communications indicated a subject was driving a load of narcotics from California to Chicago, Illinois. This information was passed to Chicago, DEA who was able to identify the driver and his vehicle, which was a pick-up truck pulling a large cargo trailer. Chicago DEA was able to identify an associate of MENDOZA in Chicago as Jose URENA. During the surveillance Chicago DEA used an undercover officer to initiate a conversation with the driver, identified as Glen FULLER, of Aspen, Colorado, in a bar inside a hotel in Illinois. DEA agents later placed a court authorized tracking device in the trailer to monitor movement of the trailer. In late December 2003 Chicago DEA advised INCA that the trailer was enroute back to California. Shortly after the first of the year, 2004, INCA members were able to locate the trailer in Riverside, CA Intercepted conversations indicated the trailer was loaded with narcotics after it arrived in California, and was then returned to FULLER to be transported back to Illinois. Based on a request from Chicago, DEA, in the spirit of cooperation, and in order to more fully identify the members of the organization in Illinois and to further the investigation, a decision was made to allow the trailer to be transported to Illinois prior to any enforcement action. FULLER left California with the vehicle in early January 2004.

On January 10, 2004, Illinois State Police stopped the vehicle just outside of Chicago, Illinois. The trailer was searched without FULLER's knowledge, and 137 kilograms of cocaine were located in the compartment. In order to further the investigation, the compartment was returned to the original condition, and the vehicle was returned to FULLER the next day. Intercepted communications indicated that FULLER believed the cocaine was still in the trailer. Later that evening, to avoid endangering FULLER's life when he delivered an empty trailer to the drug trafficking associates in Chicago, DEA agents cut the lock of the trailer and forced open the compartment to make it appear as if the narcotics had been stolen. The ruse worked, and the intercepted conversations since that time led to the identification of the source of the cocaine in Mexico, the identification of the transportation organization in Colorado, and the identification of other members of the organization in Chicago, Minnesota, and California. Additionally, MENDOZA was forced to travel to Mexico to explain the loss to the head of the drug trafficking organization. Members of the DEA Guadalajara, Mexico Office observed MENDOZA meeting with Luis RODRIGUEZ-OLIVERA, identified as the head of the newest CPOT organization.

In August 2004, intercepted conversations indicated that MENDOZA and associates would be traveling to Monterrey, Mexico. Members of the Mexican police, working with DEA in Monterrey, followed MENDOZA to a warehouse approximately one hour from Monterrey. After MENDOZA left, Mexican officers were able to search the warehouse and located approximately 11,000 pounds of marijuana much of which was already packaged in tile boxes prepared for shipment to locations in Texas and Georgia.

Additionally in August 2004, based on intercepted communications, INCA Task Force initiated surveillance on a location in Alhambra, CA. During the surveillance, INCA members observed a subject leave the location and meet with three other subjects. An exchange was observed, and the three subjects were stopped after they left the area. A search of the vehicle resulted in the discovery and seizure of 21 pounds of “ice” methamphetamine, and a concealed handgun. INCA Task Force members later served a search warrant at the residence in Alhambra and over 3,100 pounds of marijuana was seized. Intercepted conversations and surveillance have led to identification of associates in Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, New York, Illinois in the United States, and Los Mochis, Manzanillo, and Monterrey, Mexico. Wiretaps have been initiated in Chicago, IL, Milwaukee, MN, Atlanta, GA, and El Paso, TX.

Impact -- As a result of the investigation so far, a total of 208 kilograms of cocaine, 68 pounds of methamphetamine (in a form commonly known as “ice”), 32,799 pounds of marijuana, one kilogram of heroin, and $559,000 in US currency have been seized and 33 subjects have been arrested for narcotics related crimes in the United States and Mexico. Various investigative techniques have also been used, including “wall stops”, pen registers, and court authorized video surveillance inside of an identified warehouse, and sealed search warrants. The investigation is continuing.

Previous Contents Next

Last Updated: February 7, 2005

Search Contact Site Map Mobile Web ONDCP Web site