Notable prosecutions during the year included:
People v. Kimberley Quach and William Sipperley
Carmel Valley mother Kimberley Quach and her boyfriend, William Sipperley, used Quach’s 17-year-old daughter to sell drugs to high school children. Together they cultivated and sold marijuana out of their home. Quach also provided minors with Suboxone and Xanax. Quach was sentenced to 11 years and eight months in state prison. Sipperley was sentenced to six years and four months in prison.
People v. Alfred Lemus
This Defendant was charged with murder for selling a counterfeit pill to an unknowing victim. Defendant Alfred Lemus sold a pill containing fentanyl to the victim, Richard Summerfruit. Summerfruit ingested the pill, believing it to contain oxycodone, and overdosed and died. Lemus admitted knowing the pill was cut with fentanyl, and that it was much stronger. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, and other drug-related charges, and was sentenced to 15 years in state prison. This was the first overdose death in which a drug dealer was charged with murder in San Diego County.
People v. Raymundo Lopez
Raymundo Lopez entered the U.S. driving a vehicle with 15 kilograms of cocaine concealed in the rails. Border Patrol agents followed the Lopez as he engaged in counter-surveillance driving. A search of the vehicle revealed a sophisticated after-market secret compartment built into the frame, which contained the drugs. The defendant’s cell phone showed incriminating text messages while he was being followed. The jury convicted him of transportation of a controlled substance and possession for sale of controlled substance.
People v. Frank Ruiz and Marisela Ruiz
Frank and Marisela Ruiz were convicted of drug trafficking after a Sheriff’s investigation led to a house Los Angeles containing 4 pounds of methamphetamine, 24 pounds of heroin, 1 kilogram of fentanyl, 4 kilograms of cocaine, and over $185,000 in cash. Both defendants were present at the house and admitted they trafficked the drugs through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. The defendants pleaded guilty to possession for sale of a controlled substance and were sentenced to two years in prison.
People v. Daniel Garcia-Pelayo
This 20-year-old defendant sold 11 morphine pills to his best friend, Eric Sanchez, who consumed them and died from an overdose. The defendant, who had no criminal history, was distraught and confessed to the victim’s father. The defendant pleaded guilty to furnishing a controlled substance and was sentenced to probation and 1,000 hours of community service dedicated to anti-drug education.
People v. Walter Atkins
Walter Atkins, a defendant with eight prison priors, was convicted of transporting drugs after police found 1 pound of meth and $6,000 in cash in his car. Atkins and been feeling from CHP officers, ultimately crashing his vehicle when he was caught with the drugs. He pleaded guilty to felony evading, driving under the influence, and transporting a controlled substance. He was sentenced to five years and eight months in state prison.
People v. Daniel Frando
Daniel Frando was caught with 33 plastic-wrapped packages containing 44 kilograms of cocaine inside two suitcases in his trunk during a Border Patrol traffic stop. Frando admitted he was paid $800 to deliver the bags to two separate locations. A jury convicted him of transporting a controlled substance.
People v. Steven Henslee and Jose Mena
In this case, defendant Steven Henslee crossed the U.S.-Mexico border with 4.35 kilograms of cocaine and 10 kilograms of methamphetamine in his car. Henslee was sent to secondary inspection, where agents located the drugs concealed in his vehicle. Agents followed Henslee’s vehicle to a residence in Point Loma, where he went inside. Agents observed defendant Jose Mena arrive in a second vehicle, remove items from Henslee’s vehicle, place them into his own car, then drive away. Mena was subsequently stopped and found with 7.22 kilograms of methamphetamine in his vehicle. He pleaded guilty to transporting a controlled substance and possession for sale of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to seven years in local prison and five years of mandatory supervision. Henslee was convicted by a jury of all counts and allegations and sentenced to eight years in local prison and three years of supervised probation.