General Crime

Santa Cruz Task Force Foils Plan To Smuggle Drugs To Gang Leader In County Jail

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A man was arrested today in Santa Cruz on narcotics charges with gang enhancements in an elaborate scheme to transport drugs inside the bodies of gang members to high-ranking gang associates in the Santa Cruz County Jail, a task force official said. Members of the Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team, a multi-jurisdiction unit focusing on drug-related crimes, arrested a leader of the alleged conspiracy, Abraham Sanchez, 25, at 9:02 a.m. on drug and gang charges, according to Sgt. Eric Montalbo, task force supervisor. Sanchez was arrested while attending a court hearing at the Santa Cruz County Courthouse for his two brothers who are jailed on murder charges, Montalbo said.

The team has filed charges with the Santa Cruz District Attorney’s Office against Abraham Sanchez and three others in the alleged scheme, Michael Gonzalez, 22, David Sanchez, 20, and Angel Torres, 25, Montalbo said. The probe that led to Abraham Sanchez’s arrest began about two weeks ago, when the team was investigating intelligence reports that members of the Poorside Watsonville street gang planned to deliver drugs to gang leaders who are in custody at the jail, Montalbo said. The idea was to have gang members conceal various illegal narcotics in their bodies, commit a minor offense to get arrested and then distribute the drugs to gang leaders once inside the jail, Montalbo said.

On Dec. 13, members of the anti-crime team, joined by patrol officers from the Watsonville Police Department, responded to a report of a gang-related disturbance on Second Street near the Watsonville Discount Mall in Watsonville, Montalbo said. Police arrested Gonzalez and Abraham Sanchez on probation violations and then the task force, based on intelligence information, conducted a search on Gonzalez. Task force officers found that Gonzalez had placed into his rectum a bag containing 28.9 grams of marijuana, 11.6 grams of black tar heroin, 0.6 grams of powder cocaine and 4.7 grams of crystal methamphetamine, Montalbo said. The drugs had been packed in a careful way that would allow them to stay hidden within the suspect’s body without becoming contaminated or causing an overdose, Montalbo said. The four suspects have been charged with transportation or possession of narcotics for sales or distribution, conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to bring narcotics into a jail facility and gang enhancement, Montalbo said.

The Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team is asking that anyone with information about this case to call the team’s crime tip line at (831) 454-2320.

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