2 Valley businessmen accused of smuggling drugs from Mexico
Owners of a San Fernando Valley taco restaurant and auto repair shop were among 17 people arrested Wednesday, accused by federal prosecutors of belonging to a network of smugglers importing cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine from Mexico into Southern California.
Gerardo Celis-Gaytan, 41, owner of Campos Auto Repair in North Hollywood, and Gregorio Martinez-Ruiz, 42, owner of the House of Taco in Van Nuys, were arrested as part of a 10-month investigation, involving wiretaps of cellular phones and searches of a dozen addresses, into Mexican drug smuggling in the Valley.
Celis-Gaytan is accused of outfitting cars with compartments used to smuggle drugs. Martinez-Ruiz is accused of using his restaurant as a place to store drugs coming from Mexico, then supplying the drugs to Celis-Gaytan.
Another man, Roberto Murillo-Sanchez, 50, of Palmdale, allegedly manufactured methamphetamine at his home and supplied it to Celis-Gaytan.
An additional 22 people were named in the federal indictment, but are believed to be in Mexico, prosecutors said.Over the course of the investigation, authorities seized 135 pounds of methamphetamine, 15 kilograms of cocaine, 1.2 pounds of black tar heroin and $100,000 in cash.
The investigation involved agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Torrance Police Department and the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
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-- Sam Quinones