MAGNET Meth Bust

MAGNET, a coaliton of local and state law enforcement agencies, arrested 14 residents and confiscated thousands of dollars worth of property Wednesday in Kingman in one of Mohave County’s largest methamphetamine busts.<br>
<i>GVG photo/JC AMBERLYN</i>

MAGNET, a coaliton of local and state law enforcement agencies, arrested 14 residents and confiscated thousands of dollars worth of property Wednesday in Kingman in one of Mohave County’s largest methamphetamine busts.<br> <i>GVG photo/JC AMBERLYN</i>

KINGMAN - In a massive citywide sweep, the Mohave Area General Narcotics Enforcement Team arrested 14 residents in 16 locations in Operation Picture Perfect on April 9.

The following Kingman residents were arrested: Sean P. Blackwell, 38; Miki L. Castro, 38; Tashua Havatone, 26; Consuela Magana, 36; Reynaldo Magana, 34; Michael D. Mayo, 28; Xavier A. Milea, 35; Deaney Ochoa, 30; Jose Juan Ochoa, 36; James Brent Patterson, 48; Terrance D. Roberts, 28; Verenice Salazar-Escalante, 24; Manuel R. Monteiro, 32; and William S. Smith, 37. Daniel G. Milea, 38, of Bullhead City is the only out-of-town resident arrested.

All were arrested on charges of conspiracy to sell dangerous drugs, three counts of possession of dangerous drugs for sale, three counts of possession of dangerous drugs and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Arrests are pending for Bryan I. Baldwin, 42; John B. Boone, 53; and Jose Luis Hernandez Rascom, 23, all of Kingman.

Baldwin, Boone and Monteiro are facing the same charges as those who have been arrested.

Rascom is wanted on charges of conspiracy to sell dangerous drugs, illegal conduction of an enterprise and transportation of dangerous drugs for sale.

On April 9, MAGNET seized 13 ounces of methamphetamine, one ounce of marijuana, $25,000 in cash, 40 weapons, 20 vehicles and 13 all-terrain vehicles.

The investigation into the drug ring is ongoing.

The main targets of the bust were Jose Ochoa and his wife, Deaney. According to MAGNET, the two appeared to control a "top down" organization that supplied approximately 520 pounds of methamphetamine to the Kingman area per year.

"The average hit is around a quarter of a gram," said KPD Capt. Scott Wright, MAGNET commander. "That's approximately 900,000 hits."

The majority of the methamphetamine allegedly distributed by the group was made in Mexico and transported through southern California to Kingman, police said.

There were no labs found in the bust, said Tom Sheahan, Mohave County Sheriff.

According to MAGNET, the Ochoas had a lucrative business, with customers spending more than $18 million a year for the product.

MAGNET first started investigating the ring in June. MAGNET is made up of officers from the Arizona Department of Pubic Safety, Kingman Police Department, Lake Havasu City Police Department, Mohave County Sheriff's Office, Bullhead City Police Department and the Mohave County Attorney's Office.

Officers from the State Gang Task Force and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency were brought in to help with the investigation.

The DPS Financial Investigation Resource Group, comprised of personnel from DPS, the Phoenix Police Department and the state Attorney General's Office, also helped in the investigation.

"I think this is the first time that they (FIRG) have reached outside of the valley area to help another agency," said Kingman Police Chief Robert DeVries.

"Nearly 175 officers and 10 different agencies helped in the operation," Wright said. "This was a total team effort. This was one of the biggest busts Mohave County has had."

Sheahan predicted that future arrests might be in the works. "They know who they are," he said. "They better be careful, because the next time they look in the rear-view mirror, they may see red and blue lights."

Sheahan also praised the cooperation between departments that made the bust possible. He specifically thanked the Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City police departments for the extra manpower they offered to the area.

DeVries said the bust would not have been possible without MAGNET and the other agencies. The amount of personnel and the cost of the operation would have been too much for the KPD alone.

Methamphetamine and the trouble it causes has a huge, negative impact on the community, he said. "This was money well spent," he said. "And it's only the beginning."

Lt. Ron DeLong, the Kingman DPS district commander, also touted the cooperation between agencies. "I don't think any one agency could have done this alone," he said.

Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith said his office has hired a special prosecutor to handle the majority of the cases.

The special prosecutor will be paid by the hour. Smith was unsure of the final cost.

Mohave County Public Defender Dana Hlavac said his office was made aware of the bust the day it occurred. His office and the Legal Defender's Office will be going through the cases to sort out any that might be a conflict of interest, and probably will keep one case each.

The rest, if the suspects cannot afford an attorney, will be contracted out to local attorneys.

Hlavac excepts the contracts to cost his office between $20,000 and $200,000 depending on how long and how difficult it is to try the cases.