Sheriff’s deputies grab $350,000 worth of coke and heroin in two busts

Find out why an alleged dope-peddler called ‘Lucky Luciano’ might want to start thinking of a new nickname – AND, what YOU can do to help keep drug dealers off the streets …

This sure ain’t baking soda! Here’s what of half pound if cocaine looks like. MCSO photo

Story by David F. Ashton
Based on the number of arrests we’ve seen lately, it looks like the flood of cocaine and heroin sneaking into Portland from Mexico isn’t slowing down.

“We have been busy,” admitted Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) spokesman Dep. Paul McRedmond, as he told us about two different arrests that took pounds – not ounces – of dope off our streets.

Pounds of coke found Wednesday night
On March 11, based on information gained from an ongoing probe, MSCO special investigators spotted a vehicle they’d been looking for, heading for Gresham.

They followed the newer black Ford Taurus out to the area of NE 182nd Place and E Burnside Street. Deputies stopped the car for a traffic violation, McRedmond said, and then started talking with the suspect, 40-year-old Francisco L. Leon. After he gave consent to search his car, deputies found a whopping 2½ POUNDS (not ounces) of “gunpowder cocaine”, with a street value of about $250,000.

Officials say this man, said Francisco Leon – a Mexican national, in this country illegally – lost his stash, his car and his freedom that night, he’s been placed on “immigration hold” at the County Jail.

Not so ‘Lucky Luciano’ gets busted
Then, based on information learned from confidential informants, undercover drug buys, and surveillance, sharp-eyed MSCO special investigators spotted yet another vehicle of interest the following night, March 12, McRedmond went on.

The officers spotted the vehicle – also a recent-model red Ford Taurus (apparently the drug dealer’s car of choice this week) – in the area of NE 191st & Glisan, and pulled it over to make a traffic stop.

Officials say that 32-year-old Alfredo Lugo-Velez (left) was driving; and riding shotgun was 37-year-old Javier ‘Lucky” Luciano-Ramirez (right), both Mexican nationals, reportedly in this country illegally.

“As special investigation officers pulled up, ‘Lucky’ Luciano-Ramirez got out of the car and immediately raised his hands over his head – and a half-pound of cocaine fell out of his shirt,” said McRedmond. “This would break down to about 2,000 individual ‘hits’, worth $100,000.”

“Lucky” Luciano, along with his partner, went to jail without incident. “In addition to the drug charges, they have been place on immigration holds,” stated McRedmond

Ooops! MCSO Deputies say a packet of drugs fell out of an alleged dope dealer’s shirt when he put his hands up! MCSO photo

Profiling criminal behavior
Because of the steady stream of Mexican nationals arrested – and allegedly caught with large quantities of high-quality narcotics – we asked McRedmond if MSCO special investigators could possibly have been engaging in “racial profiling”.

“Our investigators gather information, participate in undercover drug buys, and do surveillance on any individual, of any race or background – based on their behavior,” responded McRedmond. “Our deputies – and especially our special investigators – have learned to look for specific sets of behaviors common to people engaged in criminal activities.”

Editor’s note:
On Monday, March 16, the 2009 Multnomah County Budget Forum on Public Safety convenes.

How much more money should the County Commissioners be allowed to hack out the budget for the Sheriff’s Office, jails, and other public safety services?

Come give your testimony Monday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Multnomah Building, 1st Floor Commissioners’ Boardroom 100, 501 SE Hawthorne Street. Contact Board Clerk Deb Bogstad 503 988-3277 for further information.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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