The Ventura County Star reported on a press conference announcing the bust of a major drug trafficking ring operating in the area with ties to the Sinaloa cartel and the seizure of $10.8 million worth of drugs. At the press conference, Ventura County Undersheriff Gary Pentis said it was the discovery of fentanyl pills that started this whole investigation: “Early on, one of the first seizures was fentanyl; bogus prescription counterfeits made with synthetic fentanyl to simulate the high of opiates.” Those pills looked like Roxicodone pills.
On multiple tables behind the sheriff were all the drugs seized during this year-long operation: 285 pounds of methamphetamine, 121 pounds of cocaine, 13.2 pounds of heroin, 6.6 pounds of powdered fentanyl, and the 600 counterfeit Roxicodone. Pentis stated that the powdered fentanyl was seized in the city of Camarillo. For the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, fentanyl seizures are a priority because it is the drug driving up deaths in the county. “The saddening thing is that overdoses from 2016 to 2017 in Ventura County are up over 42%. Those are deaths,” said Pentis.
When asked by a reporter in the room how frequent these types of seizures are, Pentis said they were everyday occurrences for the men and women who work in the law enforcement and justice agencies standing behind him. “This is their everyday life. All the dope that’s not homegrown weed basically is coming through cartel action south of our border from Mexico. Whether it’s meth, whether it’s cocaine, whether it’s heroin and the fentanyl trade, the cartels control the dope coming up here.”
Over the course of the year, law enforcement made eight interdictions and arrested a total of 13 people. According to KTLA, law enforcement identified Los Angeles County resident Omar Rangel as the head of this drug trafficking organization. "Substantial quantities of narcotics" from the Sinaloa cartel were allegedly brought into Los Angeles and Ventura Counties by this organization and sold on the streets. Undersheriff Pentis said there will be more arrests in this case.