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Montebello mayor's husband arrested on suspicion of selling meth

Ruben Guerrero is booked on suspicion of methamphetamine and narcotics sales near a school. His wife, Montebello Mayor Christina Cortez, says she's shocked and disappointed.

October 17, 2013|By Ruben Vives, Kate Mather and Richard Winton
  • Montebello City Councilwoman Christina Cortez poses for a portrait in her Montebello home in 2011.
Montebello City Councilwoman Christina Cortez poses for a portrait in… (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles…)

Montebello has seen some tough times lately.

The southeastern Los Angeles County town has weathered recall elections and an FBI investigation and was driven to the brink of bankruptcy in a fiscal crisis.

Its reputation took another hit early Thursday when the mayor's husband was taken away in handcuffs by sheriff's detectives who said they had spotted him selling methamphetamine near a middle school.

Ruben Guerrero, 44, was booked on suspicion of methamphetamine and narcotics sales near a school. He remained behind bars late Thursday, with bail set at $60,000.

After her husband's arrest, Mayor Christina Cortez told The Times she was "very disappointed and, like everyone else, shocked."

"I would urge everyone and the public to let this investigation take its course," she said. "As a mother, as a daughter and as an elected official, I have supported the education of understanding the dangers of drugs. [Thursday's] events will not change that."

Authorities say Guerrero was arrested around 6 a.m. as he was leaving the couple's home in the 1500 block of Los Angeles Avenue. Investigators said Guerrero had been spotted selling illegal drugs near Montebello Intermediate School, not far from his home.

Law enforcement sources said the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigation began a little more than a month ago when the department received information from Montebello police that Guerrero was suspected of selling meth.

Guerrero was said to be using his home as a base of operation and was described as a small-time dealer, sources said.

Cortez said she was home with her children when the search warrant was served.

Authorities also served a search warrant at a house where the mayor said her 89-year-old grandmother lived. Cortez said it was unfortunate the events were linked to her grandmother's home.

Detectives did not reveal whether any narcotics were recovered during the search. Authorities said Guerrero was the only one in either household implicated in the sales of drugs.

This is not the first time Guerrero has had a run-in with the law. In November 1999 he was convicted of driving under the influence.

Last year, arson investigators with the Montebello Fire Department investigated a "suspicious" fire that burned Cortez's Chevrolet Suburban. Cortez said the vehicle damaged in the early-morning fire Sept. 28, 2012, was driven mostly by her husband, the Whittier Daily News reported.

This year, Montebello Councilman Frank Gomez sought a restraining order against Guerrero, saying Guerrero had made threats — once through voicemail and once at a council meeting. The restraining order was denied in January, court records show.

Montebello Police Chief Kevin McClure said the investigation was handled entirely by the Sheriff's Department. "We will have to wait and see what the facts are," he said.

ruben.vives@latimes.com

kate.mather@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

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