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Jury Deadlocks in Trial of Irvine Cocaine Suspect

November 11, 1986|JERRY HICKS | Times Staff Writer

A mistrial was declared Monday in the trial of the first of four defendants in a major Irvine drug case after a jury deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of convicting him.

Moses Chavez, 31, faces a possible 18 years in prison if convicted. Superior Court Judge William W. Thomson has scheduled a hearing Friday to set a new trial date.

Chavez, a former Bible student, and three others were arrested on March 13 in a drug raid in which police seized 51 kilos of cocaine and $650,000 in cash. Chavez was charged on three counts of possession of cocaine and heroin for sale and one count of conspiracy.

The other defendants, sisters Frances and Gloria Gonzalez and Richard Aguilar, are facing similar charges in a separate trial still pending. Their case is now before the 4th District Court of Appeal, where they are challenging the legality of the police seizure of the cocaine and cash.

The arrests were made after drug investigators in Los Angeles County followed a suspect to Irvine, where he was seen entering the home of the Gonzalez sisters, where Chavez also lived. Police then followed the suspect to a house where Aguilar was staying in Tustin. Police seized the 51 kilos of cocaine at the Tustin house, the money at the Irvine house, according to testimony.

Prosecutors claim ledgers found at the Irvine house indicated the existence of a $77-million drug operation.

Chavez did not testify at his trial. His attorney, Robert K. Weinberg, claimed that Chavez only lived at the Gonzalez house and did not know a drug operation was going on.

But a plastic bag that had been used in packaging drugs was found at the Tustin house with Chavez's fingerprints on it, according to testimony.

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