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

Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
February 21
1923 - Newhall Chamber of Commerce organized; Albert Swall elected president [story]
' style=

The dismantling of a multi-state drug trafficking organization that used the U.S. Postal Service to mail packages of crystal methamphetamine and marijuana from California to traffickers in Pennsylvania since at least April 2016 – and the arrests of five leaders who spearheaded the corrupt organization, including two from the Santa Clarita Valley – were announced Wednesday by Montgomery County (Penn.) District Attorney Kevin R. Steele.

Through the course of the investigation, law enforcement identified what they believed to be more than 350 pounds of illegal crystal methamphetamine and marijuana sent in multiple shipments.

Two leaders were arrested in Pennsylvania: Lorraine Y. Zeno, 36, and Brian J. Holt, 42, both of Ambler, Pa.; and three in California: Leonardo Christian Fernandez, 34, of Monrovia, Calif.; Joel Travis Hills-Garcia, 29, of Santa Clarita, Calif.; and Patrick M. Fry, 43, of Saugus, Calif. Together, these suspects were known during the investigation as “The Big Five.”


Joel Travis Hills-Garcia, from Santa Clarita (L) and Patrick M. Fry, from Saugus

The arrests were the result of a multi-agency investigation involving:

• Montgomery County Detective Bureau Narcotics Enforcement Team

• United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)

• FBI Bucks and Montgomery Safe Streets Task Force

• Upper Dublin Township Police Department

• Bucks County District Attorney’s Office Detectives Drug Strike Task Force

• Drug Enforcement Administration (Philadelphia Division)

• Philadelphia-Camden High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA)

• Philadelphia Police Narcotics Unit—IDIS

• New Jersey State Police

• Little Egg Harbor Township Police Department

• Pennsylvania State Police Eastern Interdiction Unit

• Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Intelligence Center (PACIC)

• Middle Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network (MAGLOCLEN).

“Through the joint efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies, we were able to shut down a significant drug trafficking organization that was operating in Southeastern Pennsylvania and work our way back to their suppliers in California,” said Steele. “This investigation again illustrates that law enforcement is united in our fight against deadly drugs of all kinds—heroin, opioids, fentanyl, methamphetamine, and pills. All of this poison is killing residents of Montgomery County and other communities in the region, and those that traffic this poison need to realize it’s not worth it because we are going to keep investigating, arresting and holding accountable those responsible.”

These arrests were the culmination of a lengthy joint investigation of this corrupt organization. The investigation began when the U.S. Postal Inspection Service identified a suspicious Express Mail parcel shipped from California to Montgomery County, Pa. With the authority of a federal search and seizure warrant, the USPIS discovered that the parcel contained approximately one pound of crystal methamphetamine. The joint investigation was launched soon after and ultimately found the cross-country shipments of bulk quantities of crystal methamphetamine and marijuana to members of the Zeno-Holt corrupt drug trafficking organization. Investigators learned that the shipments received were then sold to other drug dealers and individuals across Montgomery and Bucks counties and Philadelphia. From Southeastern Pennsylvania, this corrupt organization headed by Zeno and Holt, sent illegal proceeds for the shipments of crystal methamphetamine and marijuana to Fernandez, Hills-Garcia, Fry and others in California. At times, they also personally delivered illegal proceeds.

Court-authorized wiretaps on the cellular phones of Zeno, Holt and Fernandez provided evidence to Montgomery County detectives and other participating law enforcement agencies to identify the sources of supply in California. Investigators also learned the identities of Zeno and Holt’s crystal methamphetamine customers, many of whom were distributors of crystal methamphetamine themselves.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service first identified the suspicious packages to begin this investigation. “For over 200 years, the Postal Inspection Service has protected America’s employees, facilities and customers. This case exemplifies our ongoing commitment to eliminating from the mail stream the illegal narcotics that poison our youth and devastate our community. Our objective was to identify this drug trafficking organization, both here and at its source in California, and completely dismantle it,” said Brubaker. “We accomplished our objective. Our collective success today is indicative of the collaborative relationship between all levels of law enforcement in the Delaware Valley and should be celebrated.”

The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office and Detective Bureau were an integral part of the investigative team. Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said, “Once we arrested Holt, we assisted many other law enforcement agencies in holding ‘The Big Five’ and their nationwide narco-trafficking organization criminally accountable. This was a great team effort by law enforcement. Bottom line: crystal meth, marijuana and the mail don’t mix.”

Jeremiah A. Daley, executive director of the Philadelphia-Camden HIDTA, said there has been an increase of methamphetamine trafficking regionally in the last two or three years. “While we have collectively prioritized combatting the ‘opioid epidemic’ in our region and our nation, we cannot overlook other pernicious controlled substance threats and allow traffickers of crystal methamphetamines to go unchecked. As this case clearly illustrates, meth is a significant threat to people in our communities; we are very grateful to the combined local, state and federal law enforcement agencies who doggedly pursued this criminal enterprise across the continent.”

In Montgomery County, Steele noted that there has been a significant increase in both methamphetamine drug trafficking as well as deaths caused by the drug. Eight overdose deaths from methamphetamine were recorded in all of 2016 by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. According to the latest coroner’s report, 19 overdose deaths were caused by methamphetamines in the first three-quarters alone of 2017 (through Sept. 30, 2017)—a 316 percent increase over 2016.

“Meth is making a resurgence. We are seeing an upswing in methamphetamine dealing, usage and overdose deaths here in Montgomery County, which mirrors the rest of the country,” said Steele. “Meth is deadly and cheap. And it is flowing into Montgomery County from California, in this case using the U.S. Postal Service and other carriers. Drug traffickers make the false assumption that using the mail or hiding drugs in car batteries will keep them safe from detection. They are wrong. And we are on to them.”

Zeno was initially arrested on Possession with Intent to Deliver charges on Nov. 8, 2017, and has been in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility after failing to post bail of $500,000. Holt was initially arrested in Bucks County on Nov. 8, 2017, on felony firearms charges. He failed to post bail of $10,000 and has been in the Bucks County Correctional Facility since.

Additional charges against both Holt and Zeno were filed on Jan. 10, 2018, including Corrupt Organizations, Possession with the Intent to Deliver, Dealing in the Proceeds of Unlawful Activities, Criminal Use of a Communication Facility and related charges. Holt also was charged with Person Not to Possess a Firearm. The defendants were arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Patricia Zaffarano, who set bail for each defendant at $500,000 cash bail. They failed to post bail and were remanded to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Holt’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for 12:45 p.m., Jan. 18, 2018, and Zeno’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for 12:15 p.m., Jan. 29, 2018, both before Judge Zaffarano.

Fernandez, Fry and Hills-Garcia were arrested in California. They will be extradited to Montgomery County to face these charges. Fifteen additional people were arrested or are being sought by law enforcement in this case on charges ranging from possession to Possession with Intent to Deliver.

The case will be prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Robert J. Kolansky and Samantha L. Thompson.

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.


  1. Jeanne says:

    Yeah! Great job. Time to kill the drug rings in California too. These are narco terrorists trying to kill our kids!


    • SCgal says:

      You are an idiot, these Narco “terrorists” (your word not mine) that were arrested are all home grown American men and women. Tell me again how that wall will help? Way to politicize an issue that transcends politics

  2. Jeanne says:

    Why just the pictures of the out of state dealers?
    Show the local faces too so maybe we can give law enforcement info if we think we know something about these local people.

  3. DP Rickmers says:

    Prohibition makes drug problems criminal opportunities. Education saves lives, even in a shooting gallery.

  4. Jeanne says:

    If you are high on Meth and searching through trash for whatever then you are better in a jail then on the street. You are best off in a rehab which we need more of. Once clean for a period of time then court should and does clear record so you can get employment.

    We should not let people addicted roam high on the streets. They need help. Also mentally ill people should be placed in facility until able to take care of themselves, if they ever are. We went the wrong way back in the 1980’s when we stopped caring for mentally ill and let them roam uncared for. Yes we need to make sure they have good care but they do need care. Letting them stay homeless is a shame we all share.

    I see new legislature is coming through on the federal level to require rehab be provided in jail facilities. Long overdue.

Leave a Comment

SCV NewsBreak
Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018
Officials: Arroyo Seco Threat Not ‘Credible’
Earlier today, Arroyo Seco Junior High School parents were alerted of a "concerning statement" made by a student. Law enforcement officials later determined the statement did not pose a credible threat.
Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018
SCV Home Sales off to Solid Start in New Year
The new year got off to a solid start for residential real estate in the Santa Clarita Valley with single-family homes sales up even as median prices of homes and condominiums sold during January posted higher than a year ago, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Monday.
Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018
Wilk Introduces Legislation to Create Global War on Terror Memorial
SACRAMENTO - Last week, Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, introduced legislation - Senate Bill 1452 - in a move to bring a Global War on Terror Memorial to California.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1923 - Newhall Chamber of Commerce organized; Albert Swall elected president [story]
' style=
Earlier today, Arroyo Seco Junior High School parents were alerted of a "concerning statement" made by a student. Law enforcement officials later determined the statement did not pose a credible threat.
Officials: Arroyo Seco Threat Not ‘Credible’
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital will host the Santa Clarita Valley Concussion Seminar on Saturday, Feb. 24th from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Henry Mayo Center located at 23803 McBean Parkway in Valencia.
Feb. 24: Concussion Seminar at Henry Mayo
The High Plains Library District Board has appointed Dr. Matthew Hortt as the new Executive Director.
City Librarian Leaving to Accept New Position in Colorado
NORTHRIDGE - Nationally ranked opponents await the CSUN softball team this week as the Matadors have six games on the docket.
CSUN Softball Readies for Nationally Ranked Opponents
The new year got off to a solid start for residential real estate in the Santa Clarita Valley with single-family homes sales up even as median prices of homes and condominiums sold during January posted higher than a year ago, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Monday.
SCV Home Sales off to Solid Start in New Year
The Santa Clarita Public Library’s fourth annual One Story One City program returns with free, themed events during the entire month of March. The One Story One City initiative encourages citywide discussions and promotes reading across all ages through one story.
One Story One City Program to Begin in March
Learn what it takes to become a part of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Feb. 21: LA County Fire Department Recruitment Seminar at COC
Join the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce at its inaugural Current Affairs Forum, sponsored by Poole & Shaffery, featuring the President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce, Allan Zaremberg.
Mar. 6: Chamber’s Inaugural Current Affairs Forum
SACRAMENTO - Last week, Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, introduced legislation - Senate Bill 1452 - in a move to bring a Global War on Terror Memorial to California.
Wilk Introduces Legislation to Create Global War on Terror Memorial
WASHINGTON (CN) – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas berated his colleagues Tuesday for rejecting a challenge by gun owners to California’s 10-day “cooling-off” period.
Supreme Court Rejects Challenge by California Gun Owners
1906 - L.A. County accepts Mr. H.C. Register's bid to build (Old) Newhall Jail for $2,237 [story]
NextSCV, newly rebranded from SCV Emerging Leaders, will host a behind-the-scenes tour of the Princess Cruises world headquarters in Valencia, followed by a mixer at The Dudes’ Brewery, on Wednesday, February 28.
Feb. 28: NextSCV Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Princess Cruises HQ
The Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation has added three new members to the board of directors -- Don Kimball, community president at FivePoint; Tracy Lawrence, MD, director of Emergency Services, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital; and Robert Stern, CPA, Stern, Kory, Morgan & Sreden.
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation Adds 3 to Board
Hollywood Boulevard will be closed for the Oscars between Highland Avenue and Orange Drive from 10 p.m. on Sunday, February 25 to 6 a.m. on Wednesday, March 7.
Hollywood Blvd. Closed for Oscars Feb. 25 to March 7
Westmont scored a 54-41 home win over The Master's University women's basketball team Saturday night, as the Mustangs scored the fewest points in a game this season, shooting just 31 percent from the floor.
The Master’s Can’t Find Groove in Santa Barbara
The TMU Mustangs rallied from a deficit late Saturday afternoon to beat Hope International 4-3 in the nightcap, completing a series and a doubleheader sweep of the No. 8 Royals.
Mustangs’ 4-3 Comeback Sweeps Royals in Closer
Josh Robison slugged a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning and No. 14 The Master's University rallied from a three-run deficit to beat No. 8 Hope International 7-6 in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Lou Herwaldt Stadium.
Robison Rallies Mustangs Past Royals in Opener
Farmers Insurance agent Jon Albert will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of his new Santa Clarita office on Tuesday, February 20 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Feb. 20: New Farmers Insurance Agent Hosts Grand Opening
The Mustangs opened the second half of their 101-82 win at Westmont College on Saturday with a flurry of steals and blocks and buckets, which helped TMU claim at least a share of the first GSAC title in program history.
Mustangs Claim Share of 1st GSAC Title in Program History
CSUN's fifth annual Maurice Amado Foundation Lecture in Jewish Ethics will feature respected scholar Aaron J. Hahn Tapper, who will examine issues surrounding reconciliation and forgiveness in his talk at Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue in Encino on Wednesday, March 14 starting at 7:30 p.m.
March 14: CSUN Amado Lecture to Explore Forgiving the Unforgivable
A federal grand jury on Friday indicted a 32-year-old Texas man accused of carrying out a five-day, 2 million-email attack on the Los Angeles County Superior Courts computer system in July 2017.
Feds Indict Texas Man in LA County Court Email Hack
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will host live Oscars viewing parties in New York and London for its members and invited film industry guests on Oscar Sunday, March 4.
March 4: Academy to Celebrate Oscar Night in New York, London
College of the Canyons' baseball team beat Chaffey College 12-9 in a wild game on Saturday when the home team scored eight runs in the 7th to gain the win and improve to 7-4.
College of the Canyons Outruns Chaffey College 12-9
The next Canyon Country Advisory Committee meeting at the Mint Canyon Moose Lodge includes a meet-and-greet with 25th District Congressional candidate Michael Masterman-Smith on Wednesday, February 21, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Feb. 21: Canyon Country Advisory Committee Meeting
"NCIS" producer-writer Scott Williams has been added to the lineup of speakers at the 2018 Economic Outlook Conference hosted by the SCV Economic Development Corporation and COC at TPC Valencia on March 8 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
March 8: ‘NCIS’ Producer Joins 2018 SCV Economic Outlook Panel
The William S. Hart Union High School District's Career & College Readiness Department is celebrating Career Education Month in February by providing students a variety of pathways to success.
Hart District Celebrates Career Education Month
Arroyo Seco Junior High School and Saugus High School have partnered to introduce Career Pathways to students, with automotive technology the focus of the next panel on Friday, February 23.
Arroyo Seco, Saugus High Team for Career Pathways Panels
Los Angeles County's Interim Health Officer has issued a Cold Weather Alert for the Santa Clarita Valley through Wednesday night due to the National Weather Service’s forecast for wind chill temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cold Weather Alert Chills SCV Through Wednesday
1803 - Indian family members removed from Caamulus (Camulos) village, Piru area, are baptized at San Fernando Mission [record]
1955 - Actor and nightclub owner Ace Cain incorporates the Rocky Springs Country Club in Sand Canyon [story]
1949 - Short-lived oil drilling operation on Newhall's Arcadia Street ends [story]
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, February 20, starting at 1 p.m.
Feb. 20: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
Little, Brown Books recently published CalArts alum Vashti Harrison's (Film/Video MFA 14) debut illustrated book, "Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History."
Vashti Harrison Talks ‘Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History’
UCLA's Hammer Museum has announced the 32 artists including six CalArts alumni who will participate in "Made in L.A. 2018," the fourth edition of the museum's biennial exhibition, which runs June 3 to Sept. 2 at the Westwood museum.
6 CalArtians Among Artists Selected for ‘Made in L.A. 2018’
The Isaura String Quartet will present an evening of music by CalArtians at Human Resources LA in Downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, February 18 starting at 8 p.m.
Feb. 18: Isaura String Quartet to Perform at Human Resources LA