Orange County man who led police on high-speed chase with 75 pounds of cocaine in his car sentenced to 15½ years in federal prison following HSI probe
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – An Orange County man who led police on a high-speed car chase with more than 75 pounds of cocaine stashed in his vehicle was sentenced today to 186 months in federal prison, following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Anthony Martinez, 40, of La Habra, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald. Martinez pleaded guilty on January 15, to one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Martinez is one of eight defendants charged in an indictment alleging a conspiracy to traffic cocaine throughout Southern California.
On July 25, 2019, in Whittier, Martinez received two boxes from a co-defendant 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.
“In so doing, [Martinez] recklessly created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to individuals in the community and law enforcement by fleeing from officers,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum.
When police finally pulled Martinez over for good in Fullerton, they discovered the box of cocaine.
Martinez also 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 duffel bag.
In total, Martinez admitted to possessing 260.6 pounds (118.2 kilograms) of cocaine.
This case’s lead defendant, Jesus Manuel Landeros-Cisneros, 51, of Covina, pleaded guilty in August 2020, to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He is serving a 174-month federal prison sentence for that offense.
Three other defendants in the case – Ryan Alexander Fischer, 23, a.k.a. “Flaco,” of Covina; 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, 29; and Gurpreet Chahal, 41; all Canadian nationals – are fugitives.
The investigation was conducted with the support of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). As to these seizures, substantial assistance was provided by the South Gate Police Department, the Brea Police Department, and the West Covina Police Department.
The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s Violent and Organized Crime Section.
HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 Special Agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.