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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review
/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Suspects in Drug Ring Being Held Without Bail

November 14, 1998

LOS ANGELES — Eight alleged leaders of a drug trafficking ring that funneled heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico to Southern California for more than 12 years are being held without bail, authorities said.

The eight men--members of a Santa Ana-based gang that has operated for nearly two decades--were charged with conspiring to import, distribute and possess drugs, Assistant U.S. Atty. Carmen Luege said.

They were arrested early Wednesday during raids by local and federal authorities.

Four other people were still being sought, FBI Agent Carl Swanson said.

"The sexy thing about this case is that the principals were taken first," Swanson said. "We cut off the head of the snake and we're letting the body roll around."

Authorities seized five drug shipments during the two-year investigation, including nearly 170 pounds of methamphetamine, 36 kilograms of cocaine and 30 kilograms of heroin, authorities said.

The men arrested were Jose Ponce Castellon, 36; Javier Ponce Castellon, 30; Esteban Cervantes Villareal, 26; Jose Carrillo, 34; Reyes B. Herrera, 44; Guillermina Luna, 22; Douglas Wilhelmi Jr., 22; and Nick Figueroa, 23.

Authorities were still looking for Juan Ponce Villicana, 21; Jose Guadalupe Castellon, 30; Francisco Villareal, 26; and Julie Villareal, 23.

Not all of the outstanding suspects are gang members, Luege said.

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