By James Lanaras, Bay City News Service
Bay Area law enforcement agencies have arrested the alleged leader and three alleged co-conspirators in a heroin distribution ring based in Sonoma County but with ties to Menlo Park, a Santa Rosa police sergeant said.
Among those arrested and identified by police as the leader is Gage Nichol Wynne, 22, who had moved earlier this year from Guerneville to his mother's home on Marsh Road in unincorporated Menlo Park, according to Santa Rosa police Sgt. Rich Celli.
As part of the investigation, police obtained a search warrant for the Marsh Road home and found $100,000 buried in different locations in the yard, including a stack in a chicken coop, as well as an AR-15 assault rifle and an SKS assault rifle in the garage and two handguns in a bedroom, Sgt. Celli told the Press Democrat newspaper.
Mr. Wynne's mother, Barbara Loza, was among those arrested on narcotics-related charges.
The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office participated in the investigation.
Over 10 months, the Santa Rosa Police Department investigated the large-scale distribution of the drug in Santa Rosa, Guerneville and Sonoma County, Sgt. Celli said.
Mr. Wynne was identified as the alleged supplier of high-grade heroin throughout Santa Rosa in late 2014 and 2015, Sgt. Celli said.
Police learned Mr. Wynne left Sonoma County in early 2015 because he feared he would be arrested, and he established a new distribution network in Alameda County and San Francisco, Sgt. Celli said.
Mr. Wynne had narcotics organization associates in Alameda, San Mateo and San Francisco counties, Sgt. Celli said. On Saturday, June 27, detectives learned Mr. Wynne went to Tijuana, and detectives monitored him as he returned to the Bay Area.
When Mr. Wynne's car was stopped at 11 p.m. Saturday, June 27, on Interstate 580 near the Altamont Pass, Livermore police detectives found two kilos of heroin in a hidden compartment, Sgt. Celli said.
Mr. Wynne's mother, Barbara Loza, and Henry Weiss, 27, of San Francisco, were in the vehicle, Sgt. Celli said. All three were arrested based on evidence from the traffic stop.
Search warrants were served between Saturday and Monday, June 27-29, at residences in Menlo Park, San Francisco, Alameda, Guerneville and Forestville.
At Mr. Weiss' residence in San Francisco, detectives found an ounce of suspected cocaine, and evidence of narcotic sales and past heroin distribution, Sgt. Celli said.
Santa Rosa and Sonoma County Sheriff's Office detectives searched a property in Guerneville on Monday, June 29, that contained information about residences allegedly used by Mr. Wynne for safe or stash houses. Detectives found evidence of narcotics sales, 400 maturing marijuana plants and a hash oil lab, Sgt. Celli said. Several people at the property fled as officers arrived, he said.
Abraham Moran, 26, of Forestville was booked on suspicion of possession of a honey oil hash lab, cultivation of marijuana and four outstanding warrants.
Arrests of other alleged co-conspirators are pending a review by the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office.
Sgt. Celli said the ring targeted a specific group of opiate or heroin addicts in Sonoma County and the Bay Area. Finding OxyContin and other opiates has become problematic throughout the country resulting in the increased use of heroin, he said.
The San Francisco Police Department, Alameda Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration also took part in the investigation.