Major Contra Costa meth ring bust
Robert Salonga (Contra Costa Times) | May 04, 2011
SAN PABLO — Investigators dismantled an extensive gang-operated methamphetamine ring centered in Contra Costa County and spreading across the entire Bay Area, indicting 17 defendants, authorities announced Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag led a news conference at San Pablo City Hall highlighting the results of the two-year investigation, dubbed Operation Red Reach, that seized an estimated $7.1 million in crystal methamphetamine and dealt a blow to a sizable drug-trafficking operation orchestrated by a street gang lieutenant.
“These are extremely dangerous and ruthless individuals,” said Larry Wallace, law enforcement deputy director for the state Department of Justice.
San Pablo police spearheaded the investigation that grew to include state and federal agents.
“This began as a grass-roots local investigation,” said Chief Walter Schuld. “We knew this was going to have a lasting effect.”
The defendants are Joseph Abbate — described as a gang leader — Sean Beckett, Mark Bruno, Reginald Carter, Tom Cordova, Billie Dempsey, Edward Espiritu, James Esver, Michael Lawrence, Honorato Padilla, Deonzelle Pierce, David Reams, Gary Rondeau, Ramon Rubio, Michael Sanchez, Magen Schwartz and Juan Lopez.
Everyone but Schwartz, the lone female defendant, is in custody, Haag said. She is being sought by authorities.
The defendants reside in San Pablo, Richmond, El Sobrante, Hercules, Pinole, Rodeo, Martinez and Antioch. Schuld said all of them are either gang members or associates.