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San Ysidro Man Among 6 Arrested in Drug Bust

May 31, 1987|DANIELLE FOUQUETTE | Times Staff Writer

Authorities seized 1,248 pounds of cocaine valued at an estimated $120 million and arrested six people, including a San Ysidro resident, at a Riverside home Friday in the latest of several recent hundred-million-dollar cocaine busts in Southern California.

The seizure was one of the largest ever in the Southland, where thousand-pound cocaine arrests are becoming less and less infrequent.

In April, 1986, Los Angeles police and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency investigators confiscated 1,748 pounds of the drug worth an estimated $500 million in what officials described as the largest cocaine bust in California history. An additional 1,133 pounds valued at $226 million was discovered during a North Hollywood arrest last December.

The Riverside raid, which followed five days of around-the-clock surveillance, yielded 500 pounds of cocaine in a motor home and 748 pounds stored in a plywood box within a hollowed-out pile of particle boards, investigators said.

Investigators said they also discovered five empty containers during the raid that apparently were used for cocaine, prompting them to suggest that the suspects recently had sold an enormous amount of the stuff.

"We probably missed another 5,000 pounds by a few days," said Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates, whose officers participated in the investigation. "If we had gotten that, the total street value would have been about $700 million."

In addition, authorities said they found $22,000 in cash during the pre-midnight raid.

Arrested were Mario Fernandez-Kincade, 39, and Lourdes Fernandez-Kincade, both Cubans from the Miami area, and Marco Antonio Castro-Ontiveros, 43, of San Ysidro. All were sent to the Orange County Jail without bail.

Also arrested were Herman Garcia, 43, Patricia Martinez Garcia, 37, and Gabriel Garcia Ceballos, 23, residents of the Riverside house where the seizure occurred. Herman Garcia was held without bail at the Orange County Jail, while the others were held in lieu of $500,000 bail each.

The investigation began Monday after U.S. Customs officials informed Orange County authorities that Mario and Lourdes Fernandez-Kincade reportedly were in Orange County on a drug deal, Gates said.

Officers followed the couple, who were staying in a hotel near Disneyland, for several days. They observed the pair making numerous calls from pay telephones and purchasing cardboard boxes, Gates said.

The couple left the area Thursday in a 35-foot motor home, followed by officers in unmarked cars and Orange County Sheriff's Department helicopters.

The helicopter officers watched the couple "getting off the freeway, stopping in the middle of the freeway to watch the cars, driving through tract homes and shopping centers," apparently trying to elude them, Gates said.

Officers followed the motor home to a Riverside hotel, where the couple met Castro-Ontiveros and switched vehicles with him, officials said. He was driving a small foreign car.

Castro-Ontiveros then drove to a Riverside house, where he used a wheelbarrow to load 10 burlap bags into the motor home, officials said. At this point, he re-exchanged vehicles with the Miami couple.

Police stopped the motor home and Castro-Ontiveros' car a short distance from the house. After spotting what they believed to be cocaine in the motor home, authorities obtained search warrants for the motor home and house.

Gates said he believed the motor home, which is estimated to be worth $80,000 to $100,000, was rented in Nevada.

Asked whether the alleged ring was part of a larger organization, customs special agent Joseph Charles responded: "Because this is an ongoing investigation, I can't comment on that."

The Orange County Regional Narcotic Suppression Program, which conducted the surveillance and made the arrests, is a joint task force of 10 police departments, the Sheriff's Department, the FBI, the DEA, and the Internal Revenue Service.

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