A regional drug task force in Los Angeles seized 1 million fentanyl pills and arrested three Mexican nationals in an undercover operation this week after a confidential informant working with the task force brokered a deal for a massive purchase, according to court records.
The three men from Sinaloa, Mexico have been charged by federal prosecutors with one count each of possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute.
Florencio Camacho Allan, 28; Gerardo Gaixola-Patino, 29; and Alex Valdez Oroz, 25, are being held in a Los Angeles detention center after appearing in U.S. District Court in Downtown Los Angeles on Thursday.
The men allegedly met two shoppers at a Denny’s restaurant in El Segundo on Tuesday to discuss a “sample sale” of 10,000 fentanyl pills, which would be followed by a deal for 1 million fentanyl pills. The buyers, however, were a confidential informant who has worked with the government since 2014 and an undercover police officer from Hawthorne working as part of the federal and local drug task force, authorities said.
The undercover operation was carried out by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, Hawthorne Police Department, Fullerton Police Department, El Monte Police Department and the California National Guard.
During the meeting, which was monitored by investigators, Allan and Gaixola met with the buyers while Oroz remained in their car, a white Volkswagen Jetta, according to a Det. affidavit. Hawthorne Police Department. Erick Peraza, member of the working group.
After the meeting, Allan and Gaixola drove to the parking lot where they allegedly sold 10,000 fentanyl pills to buyers for $7,500, according to court records. They then left the restaurant under the watch of law enforcement, according to the affidavit written by the Hawthorne Police Detective.
Allan allegedly confirmed his group was interested in a million-pill deal later that day and showed one of the buyers the trunk of the Jetta filled with pills via a WhatsApp video call, according to the affidavit. .
On Wednesday morning, investigators conducted ground and aerial surveillance of the Jetta as they arranged for the purchase of the pills. Investigators then moved in to arrest the three men at an El Monte Holiday Inn and seize the pills from the Jetta.
Oroz was held without incident in the parking lot. Allan and Gaxiola attempted to flee, only to be caught and subdued by law enforcement.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of life imprisonment in federal prison.