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. pismo20 says:

    A story in the New York Daily News says that the Santa Muerta statues are very popular amongst many including Hispanic business people and also drug dealers. The story says that detectives have used the statue in the past to associate with drug cartels.

    However, the cartels that associate with Santa Muerta are the Gulf and Zeta Cartels, and not the Sinaloa and Sonora Cartels which honor folk saint Jesus Malverde. So this is actually more proof this couple is not part of the Sinola Cartel.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/la-santa-muerta-skeleton-saint-popular-drug-trade-gaining-popularity-u-s-article-1.1278774

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  2. SloHeadInTheSand says:

    “They wouldn’t let me put on clothes or get the baby a jacket.”

    So where was SLO County Child Welfare Services when you actually need them?!

    ….searching for dirty houses ???????

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 38 Thumb down 6

  3. bobfromsanluis says:

    So the Sheriff’s Department gets ahold of intel that suggests this couple is trafficking in drugs; they enter the residence with a valid search warrant, injuring the woman because she was near the front door when they busted it down; so far, standard procedure. They rouse the male occupant, who is in his underwear, the house is cold (I too turn off my heater completely at night) and they don’t allow either of the two adults access to a bathroom, more clothing, or to turn on the heater? I fully understand that LEOs want to make sure that there are no weapons hidden that could be used against them, but wouldn’t one think that after say an hour or so of looking that they would have “cleared” the entire residence? What is the purpose of denying access to the bathroom or warm clothes; is it just me, or do these actions not reek of a vindictive presumption of guilt and a handing out of punishment to supposedly fit the accusations?
    And then to go to the man’s business and turn off his refrigeration units? I understand, again, that LEOs want to make sure they have done a complete and thorough search, but why destroy his investments in food for his restaurant? It reeks of a vindictive attitude by law enforcement, which I can only assume that they honestly believe he is guilty of something, so they are going to punish him.
    So, no drugs, no weapons, no real verifiable connections to the drug ring, but the Sheriff’s Department is going to punish this man anyway; Sheriff Parkinson, really, can’t you control your officers a little more and not trample all over suspects’ rights when executing warrants? You should be ashamed.

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  4. SLOTECH90 says:

    Sue the hell outta the thugs with badges!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 41 Thumb down 8

    • SLO_Johnny says:

      Unfortunately, it would be the taxpayers and insurance company that would pay the judgement. Police officers, deputies included, know that they have broad immunity. That is the reason that they feel free to be so aggressive with racial minorities and the poor.

      And I am not some liberal left-winger. I’m a lifetime Republican.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 7

  5. No_More_Anger says:

    Collateral damage isn’t acceptable, but it happens. Doesn’t mean the sheriff stops trying to arrest drug dealers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 23

  6. Jorge Estrada says:

    Sounds like Jememez is going to get restitution and a leak may have spread mis-information. It’s anyones guess what will happen to the leak who took the bait and has been exposed.

    It would be my guess that Rambo tatics are sometimes needed to keep law enforcement alive in this war. Unfortunate but safety must come first.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 12

  7. Whyaduck says:

    Was that Jimemez’s Dia de la Muerta statue on the table in front of Parkinson during his press conference?????

    Ooooo, good job, Ian! Terrorized a local small businessman and his family and destroyed his business to boot. Gotta love these gestapo tactics.

    The man-hours to break this up cost more than if the officers had purchased the heroin directly.

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    • Truth Hurts says:

      Look up Santa Muerte!!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

      • CitizenB says:

        Dia de la Muerta has nothing to do with Santa Muerte, and believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg in this sort of abuse of process, but too many people are afraid of reprisals to speak out.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 6

        • Truth Hurts says:

          Really? google Santa Muerte and then google dia de los muertos figurines for sale and look at the difference this is more of the Santa Muerte..

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

  8. Truth Hurts says:

    They took the day of the dead statue..haha…that is a Santa Muerte Statue!!!! KAREN..maybe you should do a story on it and inform your readers about cartels and mexican drug culture..Next their gonna say the picture of Jesus Malverde is a picture of their long lost uncle…Drug addicts and Drug dealers have children it is sad when warrants are served but it is the parents fault not the cops that stuff happens..for them to search the house and business they had a warant supported by probable cause and signed by a judge…there is more to this story..this is one perspective…dozens and dozens of guns were taken from residences and cartels are known to be violent and deadly remember who we are dealing with people..I feel for the kids but I have never had the cops bust my door open and there is a good reason for it..I dont use or sell drugs!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 32

    • pismo20 says:

      They were not arrested and there is no evidence that they are drug addicts or dealers. Having a statue of a saint does not mean someone is a drug dealer. I looked the saint up and it is a popular saint for healing and protection amongst Catholics in Mexico. Being Catholic and Hispanic does not mean someone is associated with drugs.

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  9. pismo20 says:

    Didn’t the sheriff say on the Tribune video that those arrested were not small time dealers, but sold multiple pounds of heroin at a time. The profit margin on heroin must be low if big time dealers need to work part time in fast food restaurants.

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    • mkaney says:

      Exactly… that being said all good drug dealers also have a regular job, but if they were supposedly traffickers/suppliers then it is doubtful that job would be working part time in a restaurant. Most of these drug “networks” we hear about are NOT organized networks. They are simple networks of association. A guy working part time in a restaurant trying to earn a few extra bucks has a cousin who has a friend who crosses the border for Ag work and brings drugs across when he does, and that’s where the working guy gets them. It’s not like it’s all designed and organized from the top down.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 6

      • Citizen says:

        You’re right for many cases, but when cartel people are involved they make themselves known as connected to the cartel– influence, intimidation, importance, etc. The “work” is just a cover, to explain why they have money.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

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