After cocaine bust at California day care, authorities reveal ‘amazing’ drug operation

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After cocaine bust at California day care, authorities reveal ‘amazing’ drug operation

PorMiMexico
http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/06/21/after-cocaine-bust-at-la-day-care-authorities-reveal-amazing-drug-operation/

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced today he is working to shut down a Highland Park day care facility where a multi-agency law enforcement task force recently seized about $430,000 worth of cocaine that was allegedly being delivered to the home-based business.

Feuer filed a civil lawsuit against Felipe and Prodigios Garcia Talamante seeking the closure of their multi-unit residence at 5215 Marmion Way, not far from Monte Vista Street Elementary School and the Metro Gold Line light-rail route. The litigation also seeks monetary penalties.
Members of LA IMPACT, a task force made up of several dozen Southern California law enforcement agencies focused on combating narcotics trafficking activity, last month recovered 20 kilograms of cocaine at the day care center, where they also saw children playing in the yard and being dropped off, Feuer said.

He also alleged the cocaine was found next to a child’s bed inside the day care business.

Feuer called the mix of children and narcotics trafficking activity a “toxic combination,” and said he is taking these actions based on allegations “the home has been the center of rampant drug activity, while at the same time being an unlicensed day care center.”

“Imagine if you dropped off your kids at a location where they ostensibly would be safe to play and so forth,” he said. “And then you learn that drugs were being sold there.”

It would only be “a matter of time” before someone is hurt, he said.

Attorneys with the city are also going to court later this week to request a restraining order to shut down the day care center, which was allegedly being operated without a license, he said.

One of the property owners, Felipe Talamante, was arrested for narcotics sales and child endangerment, officials said.

Talamante allegedly has been operating as a drug distributor who “receives cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana directly from Mexico and sells them to customers in cities throughout the United States,” according to Feuer’s civil lawsuit.

Veteran law enforcement officials who took part in the seizure of the cocaine expressed amazement Tuesday at what was allegedly occurring at the day care center.

“I’ve been in this business longer than I care to admit, and I’ve seen some interesting and amazing circumstances, but this is going to be at the top, said Chuck Balo, acting director of LA IMPACT.

He described the alleged activity at the facility as “blatant and careless for the community.”

“For a drug trafficker to set up operation in a local area, at his home, … his wife operating a day care center, with kids running around right in the middle of a drug operation, is just amazing,” Balo said.

Felipe Talamante, the 48-year-old father, “subjected those kids to two things – one, the danger of the drug themselves, just being exposed to them, but (also) just the chance of violence from other cartels, or other people coming in to rob them of the drugs … we’re talking hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars of drugs at this location.”

While the estimated “wholesale” cost of the cocaine is estimated at more than $400,000, their “street value” is at least $2 million, LA IMPACT officials said.

Balo said the amount of cocaine found at the day care center appears to indicate that Felipe Talamante allegedly played a high-level role in narcotics trafficking.

Officials also noted he may have also involved his 19-year-old son, Miguel Angel Talamante, who was also arrested, Balo said.

The cocaine was delivered to the home during a May 25 undercover operation in which a state Department of Justice officer who is part of the LA IMPACT task force was in the middle of negotiating the purchase of drugs from people at the property, according to Carlos Mendoza, a spokesman for the joint team.

Balo said that after noticing the delivery being made, “the officers decided it was time to take aggressive action and freeze the location, to make sure those children weren’t exposed to those drugs.”

The task force worked to obtain a search warrant, and “several hours later .. searched the location and found the bag of narcotics that were dropped off earlier,” he said.

According to Balo, the discovery of the 20-kilogram stash of cocaine echos another search in 2015 conducted by another set of law enforcement officials that included members of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and the cities of Inglewood and Simi Valley.

Balo said that 20 kilograms of cocaine also was found during a 2015 search of the same home and in a neighboring unit. Felipe Talamante also was arrested after that bust.

“The circumstances were very similar. The same 20 kilos at that location, with the same target,” he said. “But what I can’t comment on is why it wasn’t prosecuted.”

He added the report from the 2015 arrest and drug seizure did not mention a day care center being operated at the time.

Felipe Talamante lives with his wife, Prodigios Talamante, who is the other defendant in Feuer civil case, at the property Feuer is trying to shut down, the lawsuit said.

In addition to Miguel, the pair also have a nine-year-old son, Feuer said Tuesday.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office initially filed charges against the father and son for cocaine sales and child endangerment, but officials sait Tuesday that case has now been adopted by the U.S. Attorney Office, which is working on possible federal drug charges.

In addition to the City Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles County Department of Family and Children’s Services was also brought in and is investigating the matter.

Correction: A previous version of this story has been updated to reflect that the cocaine was allegedly being delivered to the house, not from the house.

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