SLO Sheriff’s war on drugs spreads collateral damage

December 17, 2013

dead11By KAREN VELIE

Shortly after 3 a.m. on Dec. 4, a woman awoke to strange sounds outside her San Luis Obispo home and walked quietly towards the front door while her family slept. As she reached the door, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s deputies broke it down on top of her, tossed in a flash-bang explosive device and stormed into the residence.

Deputies dragged her long-term boyfriend, Carlos Jimenez, and their three year-old child into the front room and called for paramedics to check on her. Jimenez, clad only in his underwear, was placed in handcuffs. Officers attempted to amuse the child who wandered around the frigid room in his pajamas, Jimenez said.

“I asked what was going on and they told me to shut up and sit down,” Jimenez said. “They wouldn’t let us use the bathroom. It was freezing. They wouldn’t let me put on clothes or get the baby a jacket.”

While the deputies, clad in warm winter jackets, searched the home, the couple sat handcuffed on the couch until shortly after 11 a.m. when the deputies removed their handcuffs before leaving the home with the residents’ cell phones, computers, money and a Santa Muerte statue. No drugs were found and the couple was not arrested.

Across town at Jimenez’s Cinco de Mayo Restaurant, deputies seized about $2,000 in cash, credit card receipts and all restaurant documentation. Again, no drugs were found.

Even so, before leaving the restaurant, officers turned off the refrigerators, Jimenez said.

“I had to throw out about $1,500 worth of food,” Jimenez said. “This is destroying me.”

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, which spent more than 1,500 man hours coordinating the drug bust that included 13 search warrants and the arrests of 15 people, released information stating that Adrian De Martino Morales, 24, and Aldo De Martino Morales, 22, were part-owners of the Cinco de Mayo restaurant in San Luis Obispo.

“The investigation supports our belief that the subjects arrested were involved in the ownership of the restaurant,” said sheriff’s office spokesperson Tony Cipolla.

Jimenez disagrees and says that while several of the people arrested worked part-time at his restaurant, they are not owners and are not listed on any of the restaurant’s documents.

Nevertheless, after deputies announced the owner of Cinco de Mayo Restaurant was connected to the powerful Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, his business plummeted more than 50 percent.

For the past 19 years, Jimenez has worked as a waiter at local restaurants, about 15 years at Buona Tavola and the past four years at Gennaro’s Grill and Garden. During the past three years, he also worked nights at a janitorial service while he saved to buy his own restaurant.

In April, he purchased Cinco de Mayo. After he works breakfast at his restaurant, Jimenez leaves to serve lunch and dinner five days a week at Gennaro’s on Marsh Street. He then heads back to his restaurant which he closes between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. seven nights a week.

The Dec. 4, 2013 raids were not the first time suspects have questioned the tactics used by local officers serving search warrants.

During the Narcotics Task Force medical marijuana raids in December 2010, one man suffered a heart attack, guns were held to the heads of children as they were dragged from their beds, family pets were kicked, grandparents were handcuffed and forced to lie on the floor and children were removed from their parents’ custody.

All charges filed against the so-called “Doobie Dozen” were later dismissed by the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office.

Five of the 12 medical marijuana collective operators arrested in the controversial sweep filed a civil suit. The lawsuit describes the behavior of the arresting officers as “willful, wanton, malicious and oppressive.”

The plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount of damages, recovery of attorney fees, compensation for medical expenses and a declaration that law enforcement officers will not conduct “similar unlawful seizures in the future.”

Jimenez is also looking at civil remedies to procure the return of his belongings, the restaurants proceeds and for compensation for damage to his home and business.

 


53 Comments

  1. ReelView says:

    SLO County Sheriff’s Departmart is and will always remain corrupt. My mom was endured Nazi Germany, compared the deputies and their supervisors to the Nazis. They put my family through hell all due to the horrible acts of neighbors, who by the way got away with everything, all because their son was an informant. I don’t care who the Sheriff is, the department will always remain corrupt. Too bad in out society there’s nothing we can about it, and no justice will ever be served.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  2. KimM says:

    We need to form a SLOFAST:

    SLO FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS TEAM

    To swoop in and support businesses that are targeted in this way.

    I know I’ll be making a point to support this business.

    Mexican food anyone?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 6

  3. Niles Q says:

    If a judge signed off on the search warrants, then the cops’ asses are covered.

    Unfortunately, these kinds of things happen all the time.

    About 10 years ago, MBPD did the same thing as here. Some dude in a van left a backpack on his roof and it fell off in front of a citizen who picked it up and tried to return it but the van was gone. So he took it to the PD and low and behold, it was filled with pot.

    Somehow they tracked down the van registered to a local, well-known pot dealer.

    The cops checked him out and came up with an address for the guy. So without double-checking the information, they, the NTF and a bunch of other cops swooped on the house. No one was home. They went in tore the place apart and found 2 bongs in a closet. That’s it.

    When the people who live there came home their house was a disaster, a neighbor told them what happened. The pot dealer had moved out of the house two months prior and the new people had just moved in a week before! OOPS!

    The residents tried to holler at the police chief and he asked them, were those your bongs we found? That shut them up and they had to swallow the injustice done them.

    So you see, mistakes like this happen all the time. MBPD had a search warrant signed by a judge. They executed it correctly, but totally f’d up the case.

    They tracked down the true pot dealer, who had moved across town, but the judge and the DA refused to do another search warrant The dealer probably had gotten the word already that they were after him. He no doubt wondered what happened to his stash too.

    So the cops win some and lose some. The issue I see is the military-like tactics. A flash-bang grenade? Really? Was that necessary? Didn’t they know the guy lived there with his wife and kid?

    This is how innocent people get caught in the crossfire, get hurt, just like high speed car chases, which I believe are completely unnecessary and highly dangerous to innocent people.

    There’s a war on druge going on people. And as with ALL wars, innocent people get caught in the middle.

    Is it any wonder why so many people hate our government?
    .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 6

    • Paso_Guy says:

      Makes sense to me, well stated.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

    • standup says:

      Actually just because a judge issues a warrant doesn’t give the cowboys absolute immunity. If the cop persuaded the judge through false pretenses then the cop is in trouble. Case in point, the doobie dozen. Jayson Dickel did not do a thorough investigation prior to asking the judge for warrants. In fact, all those warrants were “canned”. The DA actually rejected the charges against some of the arrestees. All the arrests did was to screw up those people’s lives but the state may end up paying for Dickel’s actions, just watch. Add in the fact that one of the other lead investigators (Cory Pierce) was a heroin addict during the investigation does not bode too well. For the most part, your are correct. Those boys can pretty much run wild busting peoples homes apart without facing many consequences because many times they are correct with their warrants. When they are wrong, it is usually because they are a bit overzealous.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  4. Citizen says:

    Before assuming the guilt or innocence of the Cinco de Mayo Restaurant owner for money laundering, better wait for the evidence to come out and see if LE can prove their case. Just because they found no drugs at his house doesn’t mean he is innocent, and just because they suspect him of money laundering doesn’t mean he is guilty. http://www.ksby.com/news/investigators-say-local-businesses-involved-in-drug-operation/#!prettyPhoto/0/ Just saying….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6

    • bobfromsanluis says:

      Wow; talk about stretching some facts- according to CCNs reporting, Cinco de Mayo is NOT owned by any arrested suspects, because Mr. Jimenez was NOT arrested, and apparently the restaurant is owned by Mr. Jimenez’s father. Either CCN or KSBY has got some “facts” crossed up; based on the history of CCN, my money is that KSBY’s reporting is suspect and short on actual facts. Real nice little follow up at the end of the report about neighboring businesses noticing “flashy cars” frequenting the tire shop in Atascadero and Cinco de Mayo, sort of a “guilt by association” presumption. And if Mr. Jimenez is profiting so handsomely by purported money laundering, why is he working such long hard hours? Wouldn’t someone rolling in the dough take it a little easier than working two jobs and 10 to 12 hour days?
      To me, so far, anything that is “suspect” is both the accusations about Cinco de Mayo being involved and the so-called “reporting” done in that hit piece KSBY put out.
      As for “waiting for the evidence to come out and see if LE can prove their case”; most of the time, LE will not move on a case unless they are VERY sure that they can prove their accusations, especially when it gets to the District Attorney’s office- if they don’t think they can get a conviction, they usually drop the case, like they did with the so-called “Doobie Dozen”.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

  5. standup says:

    It appears the lame ass NTF agents couldn’t get their heroin to feed their buddy and they are pissed. Cory Pierce, who the FBI busted for bribery and extortion, just got handed his bs sentence. He will get his in the joint most likely. Once again, quoting the NTF agent under old bonehead Rodney John, “What the Attorney General says doesn’t mean shit. The Attorney General’s not the law, WE are the law”. Get ready to be put on the stand this next spring boys. Civil suits are coming your way from this one.

    These agents are no better than a bunch of cowboys with legal guns. Their warrant was no better than the lies Jayson Dickel pulled off to the judge in the doobie dozen fiasco. Parkinson, you either need to step down or get some employees who respect the civil rights of the general public. Good job though on the other heroin busts that were actually legit. Unfortunately, your goons got overzealous on this one and now it will cost us taxpayers dearly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 11

    • Cindy says:

      standup, Are you aware that when the NTF got disbanded, Parkinson hired them for his drug task force? Yes he did. With the way these cowboy’s acted, it sounds like the same gang that went after the doobie dozen, what with not allowing people to use the bathroom and making them stand in the cold half dressed for hours. I agree that these guy’s are over the top and there is no reason to be abusive once the house is cleared.

      With the civil suits being filed by the doobie dozen and now this law suit, I think there will be some change in their egregious behavior.

      At the same time, I think people don’t know what a true BAD COP is. A bad cop won’t admit a mistake, a bad cop will plant drugs when they don’t find any. This same group of LEO messed up here in A-Town at the dry cleaners a couple of years ago. Their behavior again was outrageous but they admitted that all they found was one little marijuana plant. Same thing goes with this latest raid. As long as they don’t lie about what they do or what the outcome is, I’d say we’re all safe and we just need them to stop with the gestapo act.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 7

      • standup says:

        I am as well aware of Parky’s new group. The only two goons not involved in the “new and greater” task force would be Rodney “Wyatt Earp” John and Cory “Doc heroin holiday” Pierce.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  6. Cindy says:

    As outrageous as this is, my first thought is that at least they were honest enough not to plant something. I actually knew a person who a couple of dirty LEO planted drugs on (after they didn’t find any). It happened down in LA about 15 years ago. The poor guy had a nervous breakdown over it because it left him so helpless and unable to defend himself or prove otherwise. He really did have a nervous breakdown and had to quit his job, poor guy, he was a gentle sensitive soul, always had been.

    To an extent, we do have to trust our LEO to be honest and while they obviously made a BIG MISTAKE, at least they were honest and admitted that they didn’t find anything. They had bad information and they’re behavior was over the top but like I said, if they were truly malicious or unwilling to admit the mistake, they could have made things worse.

    Did they really shut off the refrigerators? WT_? Could that have been done by accident? Maybe they thought it was a light switch? When that switch is flipped to off, can a person hear the refrigeration shutting down? Either way, they owe him for his loss and I truly feel sorry for this family, mistakes happen. I’m certain that whoever the phony informant was is in big trouble.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 15

    • bobfromsanluis says:

      Cindy; I agree with everything you wrote, except for the last sentence; I’ll wager that the informant will not only NOT be in big trouble, but will most likely profit in some manner for providing the information in the form of a reduced sentence if he or she is involved in the trafficking, or if they are in law enforcement, they will most likely receive a promotion. When mistakes like this are made, usually no one “pays” for it, other than the taxpayers.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 14

    • oneofadozen says:

      The Narcotics Task Force isn’t in the game to leave drugs behind. It’s not because the are honest. It’s because they use the cannabis themselves and don’t want to give their stash away. After many meetings with the Doobie Dozen, I learned one thing was consistent with all the people that were arrested. The amount of cannabis that was on the arrest reports was always less than the amount that was actually confiscated. In my case 3 ounces of my best strain for pain never made it onto the arrest report. I knew exactly how much cannabis I had. Where did all those meds go? They didn’t get lost in the evidence room, they never made it that far. I’m fairly certain meds were stolen from the evidence room as well. After all, Cory Pierce had open access to anything he wanted that was in evidence. When I finally got my cannabis back, it was all thrown together in a couple of bags. When taken it was all in glass jars, labeled and weighed. A pound and a half was what they said they took, when I put it on the scale at home there was just over 1 pound, 1 ounce. A pinch here, a pinch there. One poster said that it’s the younger, gung ho types that are responsible for the bad behavior within the NTF. I disagree. It’s the older, pot bellied guys that were the worst offenders. They were having a blast laughing at us, not allowing us to use the restrooms, leaving us in 33 degree weather wearing shorts and tee shirts and kicking dogs. These are bad people who have no business in this type of law enforcement activity. The young guys were scared to death. Until you have had a scared sh*tless 22 year old kid holding a pistol to your head and you can feel his hand shaking against your skull you don’t know what terror is. A dozen or so of the NTF guys were at the protest at the courthouse after the raids. They hung out behind the box office at the theater across the street. I guess this was their “stealth” mode. When my son started taking their pics they scattered like rats who had the light turned on them. Not very professional behavior but when you are the law in SLO county, and what the attorney general says doesn’t mean sh*t, I guess you can do whatever you want. Ian, you need to clean house. The Cowboys are alive and well and it’s on you. They have no honor. Cory isn’t the only stain on your force. The lawsuits and claims are coming up, it’s going to get ugly when you and your boys are compelled to testify.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

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