The owner of an East Los Angeles seafood company which allegedly served as a front for an international cocaine ring was accused Monday of helping one of the reported murderers of U.S. drug agent Enrique Camarena escape from Mexico in 1985.
Jesus Felix-Gutierrez, 38, a Mexican citizen who allegedly amassed a fortune in a decade of drug-dealing in Los Angeles, reportedly sheltered Mexican drug boss Rafael Caro Quintero on a ranch in Costa Rica after the 1985 kidnap-murder of Camarena in Guadalajara.
The charges were made against Felix-Gutierrez in a 53-page affidavit filed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles federal court as he was being arraigned on a criminal complaint of conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana.
Felix-Gutierrez, wanted by federal agents for months in the Camarena case, was arrested Christmas Eve after slipping back into the Los Angeles area from Mexico for a holiday visit with relatives and friends.
Because of the speed required in catching him before he could leave the country, he was charged initially with only one count of conspiracy to sell drugs, but Assistant U.S. Atty. Jimmie Gurule said Monday that an investigation into his ties to the Camarena case is continuing.
Arraigned with Felix-Gutierrez on drug conspiracy charges in Los Angeles was his nephew, Carlos Felix-Gutierrez, 26, of El Monte. U.S. Magistrate James E. Penne set a hearing for Wednesday on a government motion to deny bail to both men.
Also charged in the conspiracy are two alleged associates--Arturo de la Torre and Jaime Castaneda. De la Torre was arrested in Honolulu on Christmas and will be tried in Los Angeles, officials said. Castaneda is a fugitive.
The torture-murder of Camarena in February, 1985, has led to strained relations between Mexico and the United States, which accused Mexican police of deliberately stalling their investigation to help drug dealers escape.
The DEA has charged that Quintero, described as one of the "overlords" of the Mexican drug world, was one of Camarena's killers. Quintero was captured at Felix-Gutierrez's ranch in Costa Rica in April, 1985, and is now in jail in Mexico in the Camarena murder.
The affidavit filed by DEA Agent Douglas W. Kuehl on Felix-Gutierrez portrayed him as an international drug dealer who had used his seafood distributorship, Ocean Gold Seafood Inc. at 5444 E. Olympic Blvd., as one of several Los Angeles business fronts for drug smuggling and dealing.
While his nephew, Carlos Felix-Gutierrez, is listed as the president of the firm, Jesus Felix-Gutierrez was identified by an unnamed DEA informant as the real owner. He was also identified as past owner of R&G Sales, a defunct Mexican products distributorship, and RC Auto Wrecking Co., a Los Angeles junkyard.
According to the affidavit, Jesus Felix-Gutierrez purchased four residences in Costa Rica for $1.7 million in the early 1980s, including his ranch, La Quinta, where Quintero was captured. He also reportedly tried to purchase the Playboy Club in San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1983 for $3.8 million.
The DEA traced his drug activities in the Los Angeles area to a 1976 arrest in Montebello for possession of heroin and amphetamines, when he was given a voluntary deportation to Mexico in lieu of prosecution. According to the affidavit, Jesus Felix-Gutierrez returned frequently, at times residing with his wife in West Covina.
Jesus Felix-Gutierrez was arrested by a 45-agent federal task force near El Monte following a tip that he would try to return to Los Angeles for Christmas. The task force is continuing the Camarena investigation and is also probing the killing of Alfredo Zavala Avelar, a Mexican pilot who occasionally flew missions for the DEA.