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Drug bust snares a law officer

A probation agent and her Crips boyfriend are among more than a dozen held after a yearlong investigation.

February 19, 2008|Richard Winton and Ari B. Bloomekatz | Times Staff Writers

A Los Angeles County probation officer and her boyfriend, a high-ranking member of a Pomona Crips street gang, have been arrested along with a dozen other gang associates on federal narcotics-trafficking charges, authorities said Monday.

County Probation Officer Crystal Dillard was arrested last month along with her boyfriend Jerron Johns, 27, following a yearlong investigation, authorities said. Dillard is suspected of participating in multiple crack cocaine transactions, including one in which she was accompanied by a young child.

The narcotics probe stemmed in part from an investigation into Dillard and Johns, a known member of the Pomona Crips gang called the Westside Mafia, with several felony drug convictions going back to 2000, authorities said.

"It's almost one of those stories you hear in Hollywood about drug trafficking and kingpins," said Pomona Police Chief Joe Romero, whose department was part of the task force that made the arrests. Romero described Dillard as a bad apple who "put a stain" on her department.

"The probation officer is one of the bad guys," Romero said.

"Anybody that would sell their badge, whether it's an FBI badge . . . or a probation officer" is a disgrace to law enforcement, he said.

Dillard and Johns, of San Bernardino, are both in federal custody. Two other defendants are in state facilities and 10 other associates were arrested Monday morning in the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys during a multi-agency operation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pomona police, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Dillard, according to federal officials, works in the probation department's Compton office. An FBI official said Dillard used her official vehicle to transport narcotics.

Several defendants remain at large, including Raymond "Ray Dog" King, 37, who authorities say is a gang leader and a main supplier of crack cocaine in the Pomona area.

A 17-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury accuses 23 defendants of participating in a drug ring that trafficked in cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana. The indictment documents a series of transactions involving kilogram quantities of cocaine.

Twice in April 2007, Dillard allegedly delivered crack cocaine, once dropping it off under a car in a Vons market parking lot in Upland and another time at a trash can at a Chevron station in Claremont, according to court documents. The drugs were retrieved by Johns and sold to an informant, the documents stated.

During an April 2007, drug drop at the Chevron, Dillard had a child in her car, the court record states. In May 2007, Johns made another drug deal in Dillard's car, officials say.

According to San Bernardino County court records in 2005, the county won a default child-support judgment against Johns and named a "Crystal Dillard" as the other parent. Johns, who is also known as "Japs," was arrested Jan. 30 after various drug transactions, during which he allegedly sold nearly a kilogram of crack cocaine to informants who were working with investigators, according to court documents.

Both Johns and King face potential sentences of life without parole because of prior drug-related convictions. King, the indictment indicates, was the source of a large amount of drugs in the case and operated several drug stash homes in the Pomona area.

Authorities identified the others arrested as Jeremiah Johnson, 29; Matthew Moore, 27; Carl Ingram, 29; Karriem Bradford, 34; Nekea Rojas, 28; Miracle Wilkerson, 30; Alicia Bass, 23; Willie Ward, 35; Michael Woods, 37; and Eric Quintin Massengale, 46.

The two defendants already in state custody are Lakiea Jones, 27 and Maleek Jenkins, 31. In addition to King, investigators are still seeking several others named in the indictment: Arif Habib, 26; Larry Kirk, 27; Jamie Bailey, 44; April Green, 32; Brandi Hall, 28; Joseph Crawford, 39; and James Dixon, 39.

"This is the fourth successful operation targeting street gangs in as many months," said U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O'Brien. "We will continue to work with local authorities to go after the worst street gangs that traffic in narcotics and terrorize neighborhoods with their violence."

Investigators during the operation seized approximately 4 kilograms of cocaine, about 1 kilogram of crack cocaine and several firearms.

"The FBI is proud of its successful partnership with the Pomona Police Department, the DEA and its other law enforcement partners, which has resulted in the removal of violent gang members from the streets of Pomona," said Salvador Hernandez, assistant director in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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