Houman Fakhimi

Whittier Drug Case Leads to 14 Arrests, Including 2 From Santa Ana

Local and federal law enforcement agencies recently arrested 14 people in connection with an alleged drug trafficking ring operating out of Whittier and Mexico, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports.

Drug crimes in Fullerton and throughout Orange County can be major and can have long-term implications. It is estimated that as many as 30 percent of people locked up in California prisons are there because of drug offenses.

Our Fullerton criminal defense lawyers understand the possible penalties -- prison time, probation, fines and fees, loss of liberty, loss of job, reputation in the community and other sanctions.

There are pages of laws on the books about drug crimes, which can range from simple possession to manufacture, sale and trafficking. The penalties can be increased based on the type of drug, the weight or amount of the drug and where it's being sold or if children are around when it's found. The state is empowered to charge a person with many forms of the crime, which puts them in a good position.

But, at the same time, the state has the burden of proving the charges beyond all reasonable doubt. A defendant doesn't have an obligation to testify or present evidence, though sometimes that can be advantageous. It depends on the case.

According to the news report, authorities found 75 pounds of methamphetamine, 100 kilograms of cocaine and $1.1 million in cash during a recent investigation. During a more recent raid, officers found 10 pounds of meth and a gun.

Authorities suspect that a trio of Whittier brothers is involved. Last month, 44 people were indicted on charges of conspiring to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine. Authorities say this is the third time this particular family has been investigated for drug crimes. Since 2006, agents have seized more than 225 pounds of methamphetamine, 400 kilograms in cocaine and $4.6 million in cash in operations allegedly involving this group.

Along with family members, four others were charged with distributing drugs and collecting money on behalf of the family. Five others, including two from Santa Ana, were charged with selling meth. Another man was charged with transporting methamphetamine from Mexico between Los Angeles and Phoenix and another was charged with conspiring to distribute and possess drugs.

Regardless of the press releases law enforcement puts out initially, these defendants, along with all defendants, are innocent until proven guilty. Police can attempt to show the public they have all kinds of evidence against a defendant, but until it gets to court, it's all conjecture.

In many cases, overzealous officers seize evidence in Fullerton drug cases that can't be used because they didn't follow procedures. They rely on informants, whose credibility is shaky, as key witnesses when they have little else to rely upon. Even if a case seems open and shut, it rarely is. That's why we have trials. Everyone deserves a fair one.

Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are charged with a crime. Protecting your rights and setting up an aggressive defense at the beginning stages is critical in defending against criminal charges.