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Murderer who tattooed crime on chest was involved in jail drug ring, detectives say [Updated]

April 25, 2011 |  6:48 pm

Tattoo

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

L.A. County sheriff’s investigators say a Pico Rivera murderer who tattooed his crime on his chest also was involved in attempting to smuggle heroin and methamphetamines into the Los Angeles County Jail.

While investigating Anthony Garcia, 25, for a liquor store slaying, homicide Sgt. Kevin Lloyd discovered that the gangster, his mother, brother and two others were conspiring to sneak drugs into the jail system, authorities said.

All five have been arrested and are facing felony attempted narcotics smuggling charges.

Garcia was convicted last week of first-degree murder in the shooting death of John Juarez, 23, outside a Pico Rivera liquor store.

The investigation of the 2004 slaying had gone cold until Lloyd, flipping through photographs of gangsters, noticed a detailed ink rendering of the crime scene on Garcia’s chest.

Detectives arrested Garcia on a minor charge and used a jailhouse decoy to get a confession out of him.

While putting that case together, Lloyd found evidence of the alleged drug ring.

Earlier this month detectives arrested Garcia's brother, John Garcia, a gang member on parole, in connection with the alleged drug ring. He was being held without bail.

Vivian Garcia, their 46-year-old mother, also was arrested when she went to the Pico Rivera sheriff’s station to visit John Garcia. She was released April 12 on bond.

A fourth suspect, Manuel Bermudez, 32, was already in custody in state prison on multiple felony convictions for narcotics and firearms offenses.

When he turned himself in for his four-year term last June, officers said they found four golf-ball sized balloons of heroin and methamphetamine in his rectum.

Cynthia Bermudez, the 29-year-old girlfriend of Manuel Bermudez, was arrested earlier this month at her Huntington Park residence and released on $110,000 bond.

Sheriff’s detectives say all five suspects worked together to smuggle drugs into the county jail as Anthony Garcia awaited trial on the Pico Rivera homicide.

Lloyd worked with other sheriff’s detectives to gather evidence in the case.

[Updated 6:38, p.m. April 25: Sgt. Mike Thomas said that other than packages found on Manuel Bermudez, he did not have details on how the other suspects were plotting to get narcotics past jail officials. With trials pending, “they are not tipping their hand on that right now,” he said.

But Thomas said illicit drugs get past jailhouse gates despite efforts to screen them out. Friends or family members often try to throw bindles of heroin or other drugs over a glass partition during face-to-face visits, he said. Drugs also find their way in through the mail, he said.

“We try our best,” he said. “But there’s always a way.”]

[For the Record, 2:42 p.m. April 25: An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed information about this case to Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker.]

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-- Catherine Saillant

Photo: L.A. County Sheriff's detectives said the tattoo on Anthony Garcia's chest included key details from the scene of a liquor store murder that puzzled them for four years. Credit: L.A. County Sheriff's Department

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