A Los Angeles regional drug task force seized 1 million fentanyl pills and arrested three Mexican nationals during an undercover operation this week after a confidential informant working with the task force brokered a deal for a massive buyout, according to court records.
The three men from Sinaloa, Mexico, were charged by federal prosecutors with one count each of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
Florencio Camacho Alan, 28; Gerardo Gaixola-Patino, 29; and Alex Valdez Oroz, 25, are being held at a Los Angeles detention center after appearing Thursday in US District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
The men allegedly met with two shoppers at a Denny’s restaurant in El Segundo on Tuesday. to discuss a “show sale” of 10,000 fentanyl pills, to 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 Hawthorne police officer who worked 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, the Hawthorne Police Department, the Fullerton Police Department, the 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 his car, a white Volkswagen Jetta, according to an affidavit from the Hawthorne police detective. Erick Peraza, member of the working group.
After the meeting, Allan and Gaixola went 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 surveillance by law enforcement, according to the affidavit written by the Hawthorne police detective.
Allan allegedly confirmed that his group was interested in doing a 1 million pill deal later that day and showed one of the buyers the Jetta’s trunk full of pills over a WhatsApp video call, according to the affidavit.
On Wednesday morning, investigators conducted ground and air surveillance of the Jetta while arranging for the purchase of the pills. Investigators then moved to arrest the three men at the El Monte Holiday Inn and seize the pills in the Jetta.
Oroz was taken into custody without incident in the parking lot. Allan and Gaxiola attempted to flee, but were caught and subdued by law enforcement officers.
If convicted, each defendant would face a maximum statutory sentence of life in federal prison.