By Mike Harris
Ventura County Star
Simi Valley police said Friday they have shut down a heroin pipeline into the city, arresting three suspects and seizing more than 5 pounds of the drug with an estimated street value of $300,000.
Simi Valley has seen a public outcry recently over the use of heroin in the city. Four people in their 20s and two in their 40s died of heroin overdoses in the city past year,police said.At least two more - children of Simi Valley residents - suffered heroin-related deaths this year in other cities.
Ending a six-month investigation, the arrests occurred Thursday in Sylmar and Arleta in Los Angeles County, where the heroin trafficking operation was based, Simi Valley police Lt. Dave Livingstone said at a news conference Friday.
Police said they will ask the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office to file heroin sale charges against the suspects: Jose Alfredo Carillo-Flores, 23, of North Hollywood;Joseph Ramirez Ortiz, 19, of North Hollywood; and Jose Medina Zepeda, 39, of Sylmar.
Also seized was about $120,000 in cash said to be heroin sale proceeds and five vehicles police said were used to transport the drug, according to authorities.
The cash and the more than 5 pounds of heroin, which police said was enough to supply 192 people for a year, were displayed at the Simi Valley police station.
Police said the heroin ring was a $6 million-a-year business, although only a portion of that involved Simi Valley. "So it was a very significant cell that was shut down," Livingstone said. "I think it makes a significant dent" in the flow of heroin into the city, he said.
He said police have not linked the ring to any of the heroin deaths in the city last year. "We always try to find a connection, but with these, we haven't seen any," he said.
Assisting the city's police in the investigation were the Los Angeles Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration, Livingstone said.
Simi Valley Mayor Bob Huber and other City Council members were at the news conference.
"We want the word to go outloud and clear thatif you come across our borders to hurt our children, we're going to catch you, and you're going to prison,"Huber said. The council, Chamber of Commerce and school and park districts recently formed a task force to tackle the heroinproblem in town. Livingstone, however, said the problem is not unique to Simi Valley.
"It's a nationwide problem," he said. "We're basically mirroring what's happening trend-wise around the nation."
Copyright 2012 Ventura County Star
Calif. cops dismantle major heroin pipeline