PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY — Santa Monica narcotics detectives, along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, seized over two pounds of black tar heroin and arrested two people believed responsible for running a drug dealing operation that covered much of the Westside.
Authorities on Friday released the names of the two suspects, Maria Lucia Fuentes and Jose Giovanni Franco, both of Inglewood. The two were arrested Wednesday at about noon in Inglewood as part of “Operation Mama.” Fuentes and Franco were transferred into federal custody and were arraigned Thursday on narcotics trafficking charges.
Fuentes was known as “Mama” to her customers and often wore brightly-colored medical scrubs while she personally sold heroin in amounts that ranged from a few grams up to a few pounds, SMPD Sgt. Robert Almada said.
SMPD narcotics investigators arrested Fuentes and Franco as the couple sat inside their car, which was parked inside a parking lot at a neighborhood drug store in Inglewood. The couple was waiting to complete a large heroin sale, police said. After the arrest, narcotics investigators executed a search warrant at the Inglewood residence of Fuentes and Franco and additional heroin was seized.
Investigators said the heroin seized was worth in excess of $25,000. It is believed that Fuentes and Franco ran a “prolific heroin-selling operation that provided delivery service to customers.” The two operated throughout Santa Monica, Venice and Culver City.
On Tuesday Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested 48 alleged gang members as part of an investigation of an international heroin trafficking ring. The suspects were accused of distributing heroin trafficked from Mexico to Los Angeles, San Diego and Ventura counties.
The operation had been netting $2 million a month, Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. Authorities seized 15 kilos of heroin and $100,000 in cash. Fourteen children found at raided homes were taken into protective custody.