[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
December 15
1987 - Incorporation: Santa Clarita officially becomes a city [story]

pitchess4[KHTS] – It started with a phone call, some hubris and talk of an “alien who is dressed all in green.”

A series of “overt acts” and  brazen talk over recorded phone lines in the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic resulted in an investigation and a 10-suspect complaint alleging a conspiracy to smuggle drugs, according to court documents obtained by KHTS AM-1220 on Monday.

Rene Carmona, 35, allegedly bragged about “how easy it was to smuggle contraband into a custody facility” during a Sept. 8 phone call from Pitchess to Leticia “Topo” Herrera, 41.

Carmona asked Herrera to use the “alien,” believed to be code for a jail employee, and Herrera said she understood, according to the criminal complaint.

This was the first of 32 “overt acts” — which a prosecutor must prove occurred in order to convict a defendant in a criminal conspiracy.

The inmates allegedly worked together with outsiders, friends and family alike to bring drugs into Pitchess.

One of the problems with their plan though, was that they used recorded lines to do so.

The defendants listed on the indictment are: Carmona and Herrera; Juan Ortiz, 54; Rene Carmona, 41; Damaris “Gorgeous” Obeso, 21; Javier “Turtle” Velez, 30; Eddie Enriquez, 40; Alex Martinez, 34; Jack “Soldier” Torres, 45; Pricilian “Precious” Simental, 32; and Richard Huizar, 39.

All are facing the possibility of jail time, or in several of the defendants’ cases, more jail time, if convicted of the allegations.

The crimes were uncovered by deputies with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Internal Criminal Investigations Unit.


pitchessThe alleged delivery of the drugs to jail

After that phone call between Herrera and Carmona, the following day, Velez called Obeso with the news that Enriquez put $150 into a Green Dot account.

Velez was waiting for Obeso to pick up the drugs, make the delivery and word that she’d paid for it, which Obeso agreed to do, according to the complaint.

Velez allegedly told Obeso how to package the narcotics, and how a meeting with Ortiz, who worked at the jail and was called the “Burrito Man,” would go down.

The defendants allegedly used everything from the elaborate — Obeso is accused of putting “Christine,” or methamphetamine, in a medicine bottle and then resealing it, to less inventive vessels — a burrito, which is why Ortiz became known as “Burrito Man” in the complaint.

On Sept. 10, another defendant, Martinez, called his wife, Maria Avina, allegedly to discuss the schedule of a jail employee.

Days later, Carmona is recorded commending Herrera on the great job he did “running” drugs in the jail back in 2010-11.

Carmona told Herrera he needed her help because “the yard” was “dry,” and Carmona knew how to get narcotics into the jail, according to court documents.

All telecommunications by the inmates are recorded, according to a Sheriff’s Department official.

The next delivery was supposed to come Sept. 13, Carmona said.

The next call involved Herrera confirming that she would pick up $40 worth of (narcotics) for the protein bottle. She would also add a little bit more “Christina,” per Carmona’s request.

The drugs were then put inside a protein powder container that was purchased at Wal-Mart.

By using relatives and wives, the convicts allegedly were able to coordinate drug deliveries.


Code for narcotics

Velez told Obeso that Ortiz was a “paisito,” or Mexican countryman, who didn’t speak English. Ortiz worked in the jail’s laundry unit before he resigned in light of the charges.

Avina gave Ortiz’ number to Obeso, and told Velez that Ortiz demanded smaller burritos.

The inmates and their outside help implemented a code that changed frequently.

“A little Cinco,” “pictures,” “chocolate stuff” and “vitamins” are a few of the ever-changing epithets used by the alleged smugglers.

They used different colored packaging within the burritos to determine which packages were for which inmate.

The orders included tar heroin and methamphetamine, which were allegedly exchanged in a the parking lot of an electronics store in Los Angeles.

On Oct. 1, a plastic grocery bag was found in Ortiz’s vehicle, and inside the bag there was two burritos and a plastic container of Protein Powder that had been opened and resealed, according to court documents.


The inmates’ charges and Sheriff’s response

The court complaints reference a series of felony convictions for all of the defendants, except Ortiz and Obeso, which go back several decades.

All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty at their initial arraignment.

Carmona, has a record that includes “strikes,” or convictions for violent crimes, which go back the year 2000, when Carmona was 22.

Enriquez was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon back in 1980, when he was 17.

Velez picked up his first conviction for grand theft auto when he was 23, and methamphetamine possession when he was 26.

Torres has a list of convictions that date back to 1989, when he was convicted of burglary.

Martinez has a pair of convictions for methamphetamine possession.

Huizar’s record lists numerous drug offenses that date back to age 11, according to court records.

Herrera has a conviction for identity theft in 2008. Simental was convicted of child neglect in 2004.

The case against the defendants is now in the “preliminary stages,”  according to Deputy District Attorney Mario Haidar, who’s prosecuting the case.

“They’ve all been arraigned and we’re waiting to do a preliminary hearing,” Haidar said. “That would likely be some time in January.”

No one has pleaded guilty or no contest at this time, and there has been not been a discussion of plea deal “at this time,” Heidar said.

In response to the investigation, Sheriff’s Department Spokesman Steve Whitmore said the jail evaluates any incident like this “from top to bottom to see how we can beef up our security.”

“Everything is always re-examined when you have something like this happen,” Whitmore said.

“The important thing to remember is that we were the ones who investigated this and we were the ones who caught it — so, in this case, the system worked,” Whitmore said. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to do better and we are.”

Whitmore declined to cite the specifics of what changes were made in response to the investigation, citing security concerns, and the desire to keep the changes away from those trying to beat the system.

“This investigation is by no means over,” Whitmore said. “(The investigation) will continue on, and we will continue to connect the dots after we make the arrests.”

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean C. Logan was named winner of the 2017 Electoral Ergonomy Award at the International Electoral Awards on December 5 in Dead Sea, Jordan.
Monday, Dec 11, 2017
The Los Angeles County Arts Commission has released findings from an 18-month survey of arts education in K-12 public schools.
Monday, Dec 11, 2017
The county and city of Los Angeles have activated the 211 LA County Disaster Hotline for residents to report damage caused by the December 2017 Creek, Rye and Skirball Fires in Los Angeles.
Monday, Dec 11, 2017
The county and city of Los Angeles will open a local assistance center for victims of the recent wildfires on Tuesday, December 12 that will operate daily through Saturday, December 16.
Friday, Dec 8, 2017
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, December 12, starting at 9:30 a.m.

Keep Up With Our Facebook
Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1987 - Incorporation: Santa Clarita officially becomes a city [story]
With an offense that challenged the program’s single-season goals record, The Master’s University women’s soccer team was almost almost never out of any game it played: The Mustangs were always within striking range.
Lady Mustangs Within Range of Directors’ Cup Top Spots
When Ed Jackiewicz met Tera Trujillo in spring 2015, she was studying at a desk she’d carried to the corner of the California State University, Northridge soccer field, in a “time out” of sorts, unable to practice because she’d just earned a D in an economics class.
CSUN’s “Under Armour Faculty” Promotes Academic Success in Student-Athletes
When Rafael Munoz recalls his time at the Layer 8 Computer Security Club at California State University, Northridge, he feels proud and thankful.
CSUN’s Tech Education Makes Top 10 List
The city of Santa Clarita Arts and Events division is currently seeking proposals for solo exhibits for 2018 in the gallery space at The MAIN, the City’s newest arts venue in Old Town Newhall.
City Seeking Artists for 2018 Solo Exhibits
NORTHRIDGE, Calif.---CSUN Men's Basketball returns to the road for the final time in the non-conference season this weekend.
CSUN to Face-Off Against Formal Rival Eastern Washington
Here is a list of Santa Clarita arts-related events for Friday:
Dec. 15: Santa Clarita Arts Calendar
This Friday and Saturday (Dec. 15-16), The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance brings their annual Winter Dance Concert to the REDCAT stage.
Dec. 15, 16: Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance Concert at REDCAT
The William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board has approved naming Dr. Collyn Nielsen as Chief Administrative Officer and Jan Hayes-Rennels as Director of Special Programs and Staff Development.
Hart Appoints Nielsen, Hayes-Rennels to District Office Positions
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - The CSUN men's volleyball team was picked to finish third in the inaugural Big West Men's Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll announced Thursday.
Big West Pre-Season Coaches Poll Puts Matadors Volleyball at No. 3
A 44-year-old transient was arrested by SCV Sheriff's Station deputies Wednesday afternoon after he allegedly tried to pick up his 8-year-old niece from a school in Santa Clarita.
Suspect Arrested in Attempted Kidnapping
It was a night to honor exceptional mentors at California State University, Northridge, but the five recipients of the 2017 Don Dorsey Excellence in Mentoring Awards just wanted to talk about their students.
CSUN Pays Tribute to Mentors Who Have Made a Difference
The words leapt right off the page and hung in the air, heavy, encircling the audience. Their creator stood, offering his gifts of verse — shared in a powerful baritone voice.
Literary Star Power Comes to CSUN
While critical fire conditions continue through Friday, the final numbers for the Rye Fire have been released.
Officials Release Final Numbers on Rye Fire
The William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board held it’s annual reorganizational meeting Wednesday night, naming Steve Sturgeon as Board President.
Steve Sturgeon Named 2018 Hart Board President
Castaic Elementary School is collecting gently used children's clothing and toys for the victims of the Creek Fire in Sylmar.
Local School Collecting Clothes, Toys for Creek Fire Victims
Gusty Santa Ana winds fanned the Thomas Fire's eastern flank Thursday, prompting officials to call for mandatory evacuations for areas near Fillmore.
Officials Issue Evacuation Orders for Fillmore Residents
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued the following statement in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to repeal net neutrality rules instituted in 2015. These rules protect consumers' access to online content without interference or manipulation by an internet service provider:
Becerra Condemns FCC’s Net Neutrality Ruling
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement Thursday on the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting:
Feinstein Issues Statement on Five Year Anniversary of Sandy Hook
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and its Secretary, Betsy DeVos, for refusing to process debt relief claims submitted by tens of thousands of students who took out federal student loans to attend Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (Corinthian).
Becerra Lawsuit Alleges Devos, Education Department Refusing to Process Debt Relief Claims
CAL FIRE has released a statement on its Facebook page regarding the death of one of their own:
CAL FIRE Engineer Killed Battling Thomas Fire
1931 - Season's first major storm deposits 9 inches of snow in Newhall, 10 in Saugus [story]
The Sheriff’s Department and CHP will participate in a special year-end "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" enforcement campaign from December 15 through January 1.
LASD, CHP Join ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ DUI Campaign
The Caribbean is back, better than ever, and Valencia-based Princess Cruises is offering the best fares of the season during the “Exclusively Caribbean Sale,” on 7-, 8-, 10-, 14-day sailings departing February through April 2018.
Princess Cruises ‘Exclusively Caribbean Sale’ Offers Season’s Best Fares
Designer and animator Jamie Tan (Film/Video BFA 15) started baking cakes and fancy French pastries as a meditative practice to help her balance the 20 credit semesters she was taking as a student at CalArts.
Jamie Tan on Art, Baking for Rojas’ ‘Theater of Disappearance’
CalArts School of Critical Studies faculty Janet Sarbanes recently received a grant from The Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program for her essay "Reframing the House of Dust: A Meditation in Many Parts."
CalArts’ Janet Sarbanes Wins Writers Grant from Creative Capital
Artist and CalArts alumna Carrie Mae Weems (Art BFA 81) concludes her year-long residency at New York’s Park Avenue Armory with a day-long convening of artists, writers, poets, musicians and social theorists on Sunday, Dec. 17.
Dec. 17: Weems Wraps Year-Long NYC Residency
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean C. Logan was named winner of the 2017 Electoral Ergonomy Award at the International Electoral Awards on December 5 in Dead Sea, Jordan.
LA County Registrar-Clerk Wins International Electoral Award
The CSUN women's basketball team looks to extend its winning streak to four when the Matadors return home to face the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks on Monday, December 18.
Dec. 18: CSUN Women’s Basketball Team Goes for 4
Sport fishing permits for 2018 are now on sale from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Sport Fishing Licenses for 2018 Now on Sale
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the Santa Clarita Valley and other areas of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties through Friday morning.
Critical Fire Conditions in SCV Though Friday
Steve Gerischer, proprietor of Larkspur Garden Design, will simplify the art of rose pruning and share tips on keeping your roses flourishing at the next installment of CSUN's CSUN-al Gardening series on Saturday, Jan. 13.
CSUN-al Gardening to Tackle the Prickly Topic of Pruning Roses
The Master’s University profiles 2017 men's basketball star Brock Gardner.
TMU Basketball’s Brock Gardner – Tough Decisions, Terrific Transfer
The list of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes, released recently, was backloaded with four athletes from The Master’s University.
4 TMU Men’s Soccer Players Named NAIA Scholar-Athletes
During October, 15 junior high and high school campuses in Santa Clarita hosted a toiletries drive as part of their annual DFY in SCV community campaign.
DFY in SCV Students Help Others in Need