2017-01-12 / Front Page
Cops break up heroin delivery service to the East County
Undercover operation leads investigators to the voice on other end of the phone, police say
Rosario Vargas, a 35-year-old transient, pleaded not guilty Jan. 6 to one felony count each of selling and/or transporting a controlled substance and possessing a controlled substance for sale, according to Ventura County Superior Court records.
He was arrested Jan. 4 in Simi Valley on suspicion of being a drug runner, engaging in criminal conspiracy and possessing heroin for sale, said SVPD Dep. Chief Joseph May.
Fullerton residents Daniel Delgado, 28, and Yoelmmi Sandoval, 29, were also arrested Jan. 4 in Fullerton and Anaheim, respectively, on suspicion of criminal conspiracy.
But Sandoval and Delgado were released from custody Jan. 6 and Jan. 9, respectively, because police did not file cases against them with the district attorney’s office within 48 hours, said VCSO Sgt. Denise Sliva.
The three arrests stem from an investigation that began in October following the heroin-related deaths of 26-year-old Tanner Fazli on Sept. 19 and 36- year- old Pedro Zamora on Oct. 13 in Simi Valley, May said.
“We’ve been sending our narcotics detectives to apparent overdoses for a few years, and their job is to trace the source of the heroin, prescription pills or whatever the case may be,” May told the Acorn. “In tracing the source of the heroin, detectives discovered that (Fazli and Zamora) had received their drugs from the same delivery service.”
Over the course of their undercover investigation, Simi Valley detectives monitored a drug-distribution network that, May said, operated like a pizza delivery service. Authorities found the service was also bringing heroin into Thousand Oaks and Moorpark.
“When a customer wants to get some drugs, they call a dispatcher, who takes the order and passes it on to the runner. The runner either has the product on them or picks it up to deliver to the customer,” he said.
Drug delivery services like this are not new, May said.
“In the old days, you had your dealer’s direct number and you would just call them or page them on a beeper to get your drugs,” he said. “Now you’ve got multilevel, intricate criminal organizations . . . that aren’t just operating out of a house. They’re spiderwebbed all over the country.”
On Jan. 4, detectives with SVPD and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office served multiple search warrants in Simi Valley, Torrance and Fullerton. Detectives found 32 grams of heroin and more than $4,000 in suspected drug proceeds.
Although Vargas, Sandoval and Delgado were arrested, the investigation is not closed.
“We’ve done other delivery service cases in the past, and we always continue to monitor them because it’s kind of like the whack-a-mole game,” the deputy chief said. “If you pound down one service, another one pops up in its place, or you could take down one portion of a service and another part of the same organization pops back up with different faces.”
With drug use an ongoing problem countywide, police are committed to stemming the flow of narcotics, May said.
“I can tell you no one in Simi is growing opium poppies and making heroin or growing coca plants and turning it into cocaine,” he said. “If the drugs come into our city, we’re going to trace it back to the source, wherever the investigation leads.”