VENTURA, Calif. -- Multiple Ventura County agencies combined forces to make multiple arrest and seizures in a drug ring operation.
The arrest and seizures happened in multiple cities including Ventura, Oxnard, Bakersfield, Porterville and Santa Paula.
After a four month long investigation by the Ventura County Combined Agency Team, Drug Enforcement Administration, Ventura Sheriff’s Gang Unit, Oxnard Police Department, United States Customs and Border Protection Agency and the California Highway Patrol, these agencies were able to locate and arrest multiple suspects involved in a methamphetamine trafficking organization in Ventura County.
The investigation found and seized a total of 192 pounds of methamphetamine, 5 pounds of heroin, 500 fentanyl pills, $208,000 in United States currency and one firearm.
Investigators arrested seventeen people for felony crimes and involvement in the importation and distribution of drugs.
The County says the joint state/federal investigation targeted suspects who are engaged in mid to top-level drug trafficking that impacted the residents and businesses of the County of Ventura.
Back in March, detectives assigned to the VCAT and Sheriff's Gang Unit began an investigation of a local group of Ventura County residents who were said to be responsible for importing and trafficking multiple pounds of methamphetamine from Mexico to Ventura County.
VCAT investigators identified Francisco Aparicio, 38, and Saul Ramirez, 32, as the two main coordinators of this Drug Trafficking Organization. Investigators say Aparicio currently resides in Bakersfield, but recently lived in Oxnard. Ramirez currently resides in Oxnard.
The Ventura County Superior Court approved an investigation that revealed Aparicio and Ramirez had spoken directly with Mexico based sources coordinating shipments of multiple pounds of methamphetamine for delivery into the United States.
Investigators say this criminal organization would typically employ other people as “runners” to smuggle and transport the drugs from the U.S./Mexico border to Ventura County. Upon arrival, the drugs would then be distributed to local dealers for street level distribution.
Investigators devoted hundreds of hours to surveillance, writing and serving search warrants, and conducting interviews that resulted in successfully identifying stash houses, couriers, transportation routes and co-conspirators within this criminal drug trafficking organization.
Some are the following arrests made from the operation:
- Scott Bowen, 56, from Oxnard and Tatianna Knox-Hickok, 33, from Oxnard transported 103.4 pounds of methamphetamine, 2 kilograms of heroin and 500 Fentanyl pills across the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
- Santiago Chavez, 31, from Oxnard and Rosa Benitez, 20, from Oxnard transported 15 pounds of methamphetamine in Ventura.
- Saul Ramirez, 32, from Oxnard and Kevin Montanez, 46, from Ventura transported 8.8 pounds of methamphetamine in Thousand Oaks and in possession of $50,566.
- Victor Leon, 26, from Ventura transported 12 pounds of methamphetamine in Camarillo.
- Joseph Leon, 31, from Oxnard transported 4.6 pounds of methamphetamine and $10,233.
- Yuvel Garcia, 44, from Ventura transported $101,125 and in possession of 37 pounds of methamphetamine in the Porterville.
Other arrests included Gerardo Reyes, 42, from Oxnard, Rogelio Vasquez, 22, from Porterville, Ricardo Juarez, 27, from Ventura, Stephanie Licon, 32, from Ventura, Veronica Reyes, 40, from Santa Paula, David Hernandez, 40, from Santa Paula and Eric Escamilla, 41, from Santa Paula.
Officials say the street value of the methamphetamine seized in this case is approximately $672,000, the street value of the heroin is approximately $60,000 and street value of the Fentanyl seized in this case is approximately $15,000.
The case has been submitted to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office for criminal filling.