Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Four people arrested, guns seized in crackdown on sale of counterfeit cigarettes

A crackdown on the sale of counterfeit cigarettes has led to the arrest of four people, the seizure of about 500 cartons of fake brand cigarettes and three guns, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.

Detectives made the bust after serving search warrants Wednesday at two locations in the 400 block of Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, authorities said. Investigators warned that some of the cigarettes contain materials not usually found in tobacco products.

About 450 cartons of counterfeit tobacco with an estimated street value of about $25,000 and 53 cartons of duty-free tobacco with a value of about $3,000 were seized, authorities said.

The suspects sold the packs of counterfeit cigarettes on the street by walking up to people and asking whether they wanted to get a good price on packs or cartons, authorities said.

The two search warrants also resulted in three handguns being recovered, one of which had been reported stolen in a burglary in West Covina in March of 2010.

The four suspects arrested were identified as Johnny Morales, 20;  Elena Bautista, 39; Benjamin Leal, 58; and Jose Garcia, 59. Their bail was set at $20,000 each, authorities said. Morales is an admitted gang member who is currently out on parole.

"We hope to increase global awareness of the negative impact of organized intellectual property crimes," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca in a statement. "Counterfeiting and piracy impact public safety by funding organized crime, street gangs, and even terrorism through the sales of these counterfeit products."


Crime L.A.: See what crime is occurring in your neighborhood

$50,000 in marijuana stolen from home; owner asks police to investigate

Suspect in million-dollar car-theft ring has been arrested and charged

-- Richard Winton

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times file photo

Click for crime reports across L.A. County on The Times' interactive database

Comments () | Archives (2)

Thank god for ethnic diversity. Can you imagine the unemployment rate if the 50% of the gov't workers currently providing services for these minority parasites lost their jobs.

Thanks for the amnesty in the 80's you liberal cowards are responsible for..


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: