Orange County man chased by police while possessing 75 pounds of cocaine in his car pleads guilty to federal charge following ICE probe
LOS ANGELES – An Orange County man who led police on a high-speed car chase after they attempted to pull him over with approximately 75 pounds of cocaine in his vehicle pleaded guilty Jan. 15, to a federal narcotics charge, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Anthony Martinez, 40, of La Habra, pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
In Feb. 2020, a federal grand jury charged Martinez and seven other defendants in a superseding indictment alleging a narcotics trafficking conspiracy in which large quantities of cocaine were stored in stash houses in Baldwin Park and Covina, then delivered to buyers in Southern California. According to his plea agreement, on July 25, 2019, in Whittier, Martinez received two boxes from co-defendant Ryan Alexander Fischer, 23, a.k.a. “Flaco,” of Covina, that contained 75.2 pounds (34.1 kilograms) of cocaine, placed the boxes in his car and drove off. When Whittier Police officers attempted to pull Martinez over, he initially pulled over, then sped away, refusing to stop and led police on a car chase in which Martinez veered into oncoming traffic and drove on the wrong side of the road, the plea agreement states. When police finally pulled Martinez over for good in Fullerton, they discovered the box of cocaine.
Martinez further admitted that, simultaneously, he possessed 132.6 pounds (60.2 kilograms) of cocaine, separately wrapped in one kilogram “bricks” located in a storage locker, and 52.9 pounds (23.98 kilograms) of cocaine located inside a duffle bag.
In total, Martinez admitted to possessing 260.6 pounds (118.2 kilograms) of cocaine.
U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald scheduled a May 17 sentencing hearing, at which time Martinez will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
This case’s lead defendant, Jesus Manuel Landeros-Cisneros, 50, of Covina, pleaded guilty in August 2020 to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 11.
The case’s other defendants – Fischer; Manuel Angel Landeros-Lopez, 43, of Covina; David Elgrably, 51, of Suisun City, California – are scheduled to go on trial on July 27. Three defendants – Harnidhan Bhangu, 30; Harmanjot Singh, 28; and Gurpreet Chahal, 41; all Canadian nationals – are fugitives.
This case received support from the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and substantial assistance from the South Gate Police Department, the Brea Police Department and the West Covina Police Department, and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s Violent and Organized Crime Section.