San Luis Obispo County drug traffickers arrested

May 12, 2011

Mario Garcia

Four members of a San Luis Obispo County drug trafficking ring were arrested and approximately eight pounds of methamphetamine was seized on Wednesday as part of a multi-agency investigation.

Following a tip that Julio Gutierrez, 36, of Los Osos was transporting multiple pounds of uncut meth between California and Chicago using his work as a road re-surfacer for Santa Barbra Surfacing to hide his drug trafficking, FBI investigators used an informant to purchase five pounds of meth. The confidential informant met Gutierrez at his home at 1687, 7th Street in Los Osos.

During the investigation, the confidential informant negotiated the purchase of five pounds of methamphetamine with Gutierrez, a transaction that took place Wednesday morning. When Gutierrez, Jeronimo Baldivias, 45, and Eleuterio Corona, 37, delivered the narcotics, all three were taken into custody.

While executing a search warrant at a residence in Ontario – the location where the one-pound transaction allegedly took place – law enforcement officials arrested the fourth man.

Task force members are searching for a fifth suspect, Mario Garcia, also known as Mario Garcia-Mendoza, 32, of Ontario, who is identified as a fugitive.

Distributing methamphetamine is a charge that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and statutory maximum sentence of life in prison if they are convicted.

The case was jointly investigated by the by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

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So a few of you, or at least r0y, has noticed that this involved more than one agency. What is the reason for this? Is this our law enforcement agencies “working together” and breaking down those interagency walls that we heard had such a role in the failure of the government to be able to prevent 9/11? Is this just a successful partnership of federal border surveillance, combined with FBI know how, and local cop knowledge of the people and territory? Well, I’m sure that this is how the official press release reads, but ONCE AGAIN there’s always a little more than meets the eye to story when our government is involved. (Remember conservatives, “small” government is the goal, right? Or do most of you actually want big government, but only when it comes to YOUR pet issues like law enforcement, immigration, and the military/foreign policy)

So here’s the story. The fact is that the motivation here for creating “successful partnerships” between state, local, and federal government agencies has to do with MONEY; Asset Forfeiture to be more specific. Asset forfeiture is a huge source of funding for law enforcement agencies, and not just the funding itself but the control over those funds – how much the citizenry can influence how money is spent and how law enforcement agencies do their work.

I’ll try to keep this somewhat simple for now… as this article is about to roll off into the the memory hole in a day or two anyway. State laws are much stricter than federal laws on matters of asset forfeiture. Under state law, there must be an arrest and conviction for assets to be forfeited. Additionally, money earned through A.F. goes into the general fund or other fund that is controlled by the legislature. On the state level, proving a legitimate cause for A.F. is a criminal matter, requiring evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. On the other hand, under federal law, A.F. does not require a conviction at all. An individual does not have to be charged, arrested, or found guilty. That is because it is a CIVIL matter and not a criminal matter under federal law, and that means keeping th assets requires a preponderance of evidence, and not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Assets can be seize with little probable cause to begin with. On top of that, there is actually a way to do the seizure administratively, and not even go through the courts, on the federal level.

Combine this with the federal “Equitable Sharing” program, which allows seized assets to be divided among the participating agencies, and you’ve got a marriage made in.. well, not heaven. This results in the diversion of a great deal of money from States to the federal government. And if creates a huge incentive for state and local agencies to involve federal agencies in the operation, as they don’t have to deal with those pesky state laws on the matter.

It should be obvious that this has some rather significant implications and consequences, especially with regard to some of the issues I indicated in the second paragraph. I’m not going to delve into that here though, so I encourage you to do some research on the issues resulting from this, and I also encourage you never to take for granted that the motives of government agencies are what they say they are, and that there’s often a dirty little secret behind every corner.

Wow, this might just convince some Federal Agency (say… CIA?) to “encourage” drug-running, followed by a joint-task-force narcotics bust as a means of extracting wealth from the populace (users/dealers). But that’d just be crazy talk. I mean, drug production would never decline!

GOOD Get these slime bags off the streets and away from our kids THANK YOU

Get the slime bags off the streets and out of their financial offices… just thought I’d enhance your statement, as I recall not too long ago people were griping about LEO’s taking on street crime while the white-collar stuff gets little, to no interest from the departments… just saying…

Another job well done, time and money well spent. Thank you Sheriff Ian Parkinson. Go after the meth dealers……………..Please leave the medical MJ users in peace.

Yeah, probably true. Though with ICE and HLS involved, I’m wondering if they tracked some of the people or drugs from outside the U.S. borders… time will tell, I suppose.

One would think that the resources and talents of the FBI and local law enforcement would be enough, and if not perhaps these agencies should re-evaluate themselves?

I have to wonder why Homeland Security was involved. I can get why the other three were, but HLS seems redundant… unless we are now adding drug crimes as a threat to our national security?

rOy—MONEY……They have funding that local law enforcement doesn’t have..

Money yes, but for making it, not spending it.