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Meth Traffickers Shipped Drugs to Hawai‘i Disguised as Aztec Objects

October 17, 2018, 3:57 PM HST
* Updated October 17, 10:31 PM
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Monolith of the Stone of the Sun, also named Aztec calendar stone. PC: Wikipedia

Federal authorities on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, arrested eight defendants named in a grand jury indictment that alleges a scheme to send methamphetamine to Hawai‘i, including nearly 12 kilograms of narcotics made to look like decorative Aztec calendars and statues.

Tuesday’s arrests follow the filing of a seven-count indictment on Oct. 10. A ninth defendant charged in the indictment was already in federal custody on an unrelated case.

The indictment alleges a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, including an attempted shipment on July 17 of 11.7 kilograms of pure methamphetamine from a post office in Garden Grove. Those drugs were part of a nearly 90-pound shipment that appeared to be colorful, decorative Mexican items, including replicas of the 500-year-old Aztec calendar stone.

The indictment also alleges that members of the conspiracy, over the past year, sent to Hawai‘i a package containing about two pounds of methamphetamine and another with nearly five pounds of the drug.

All three of the narcotic shipments alleged in the indictment were intercepted by law enforcement.

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The nine defendants named in the indictment are:

  • Felix Salgado, 28, of Perris, who allegedly obtained wholesale quantities of methamphetamine on behalf of the conspiracy;
  • Vaimanino Lee Pomele, 49, of Garden Grove, who allegedly orchestrated the drug shipments to Hawai‘i;
  • German Bastidas Nunez, also known as “Cheque,” 46, of Moreno Valley, who allegedly supplied narcotics to Salgado and who was already in custody;
  • Fernando Caballero Rascon, 42, of Garden Grove, who allegedly purchased methamphetamine from Pomele;
  • James Arnold Borbon, also known as “Dino,” 58, of Garden Grove, an alleged customer of the drug ring;
  • Moises Rey Avina, 39, of Santa Ana, who allegedly purchased methamphetamine from Pomele;
  • Gary Wayne Minter, 55, of Victorville, who allegedly used his residence as a stash house;
  • Alejandra Pomele, who is Vaimanino’s wife; 44, also of Garden Grove, who allegedly delivered narcotics to a customer on at least one occasion; and
  • Stephen Dgewell Martin, 30, of Anaheim, who allegedly dropped off the shipment containing the methamphetamine disguised as Aztec calendars and statues at the Post Office.
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The eight defendants taken into custody Tuesday morning Oct. 16, were arraigned on the indictment this Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 16, in United States District Court in Santa Ana.

If convicted of the charges in the indictment, each defendant would face a mandatory minimum sentence of at least five years in federal prison, and each potentially could be sentenced to decades in prison.

The matter is being is being investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Cypress Police Department.

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This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rosalind Wang of the Santa Ana Branch Office.

This information was provided by the authorities. An indictment is a formal accusation initiating a criminal case, presented by a grand jury and usually required for felonies and other serious crimes. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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