Authorities broke up a drug ring operating along the Central Coast and arrested their main suspect, a 58-year-old Nipomo man, late last week.
After a four-month investigation, deputies with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s narcotics unit and several other law enforcement agencies served search warrants and arrested four suspects, including alleged drug trafficker Pedro Villa Perez.
Sheriff’s officials believe Perez and others were operating a sophisticated meth and cocaine trafficking operation in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Kern counties.
When authorities arrested the 58-year-old on Friday, they turned up 3 pounds of cocaine, half a pound of meth, and drug packaging materials.
Perez was contacted during a traffic stop and found to have a hidden compartment in his vehicle, which contained the narcotics, Drew Sugars, a sheriff’s spokesman, said in a news release.
A search warrant in the 400 block of Orchard Road, in Nipomo at Perez residence, revealed more narcotics hidden inside of a Coleman ice chest, which had been equipped with a hidden compartment.
Authorities determined Perez was purchasing large amounts of drugs and distributing them throughout the coastal counties, as well as in Bakersfield. Investigators also believe the suspect had a hand in transporting narcotics across several county lines.
When deputies served a search warrant in the 8300 block of Kern Canyon Road, in Bakersfield, they arrested Guni Villa Lugo, 27, and Glenda Villa, 25.
Sugars said Perez frequently stayed at Lugo’s home when traveling in the Bakersfield area.
While serving the search warrant, agents from the [Drug Enforcement Administration] located another ice chest with a hidden compartment, the spokesman said.
Inside of the hidden compartment, agents located a quarter pound of methamphetamine and three handguns.
It was ascertained both Lugo and Villa knew about the methamphetamine and guns, and were involved with Perez in the sales of narcotics.
Authorities also searched an Orcutt home in the 1100 block of George Drive and arrested Alejandro Sanchez, 28, after finding methamphetamine and $4,100 in cash in his possession.
Sugars said Perez faces a handful of drug-related charges, including possession of cocaine and meth for sale, transportation of a controlled substance, and using a hidden compartment to transport narcotics.
He is being held on $100,000 bail in Santa Barbara County Jail.
Lugo and Villa, both arrested on Friday, are being held on suspicion of possession of meth for sale and possession of a firearm while engaged in narcotics-related activity. Sanchez faces charges of possession of meth for sale.
The sheriff’s department was assisted by the DEA, the Santa Maria Police Department, and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department.
By ERIC LINDBERG
July 6, 2010
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