City Sues to Seize Illegal Day Care and Drug Den

June 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a narcotics abatement lawsuit Tuesday against the owners of a Highland Park home allegedly operating as an unlicensed daycare center and cocaine dispensary.

“The rampant drug activity we allege at this home is a dangerous blight on the community — and especially alarming because little kids are caught up in the middle of it,” Feuer said at a news conference with representatives from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and the L.A. Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force.

“Imagine if your children were being cared for in the same house where cocaine was being sold,” he said. “My office will do everything in our power to shut down what we allege is an incredibly toxic combination of illegal drugs and day care.”

One of the two owners of the Highland Park home, Felipe Talamante, is accused in a federal court case of trying to sell cocaine “direct from Mexico” to an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent on May 25, the Los Angeles Times reported. Felipe Talamante, 48, boasted to a confidential informant that he had 20 kilograms — or 44 pounds — of cocaine worth about $430,000 ready to sell, and the informant then connected him with the undercover agent, court papers allege.

When the men allegedly met to make the sale, authorities noticed that several children were playing in the front yard, according to documents cited by The Times. One 2-year-old child was picked up from the home while the drug order was being placed, and officers conducting surveillance “observed children of all ages being picked up and dropped off at Felipe’s residence,” according to the criminal complaint.

A child’s mattress was found in the same room as the cocaine, and children were seen playing on the patio during drug deals, according to The Times.

Federal agents arrested Talamante on suspicion of being in possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. He’s being held in federal custody and is scheduled to be arraigned July 16, the newspaper reported.

Talamante’s home, meanwhile, is subject to civil action. Feuer’s nuisance abatement lawsuit asks a judge to declare the property a public nuisance and to take it away from Talamante, who could then be banned from the property for a year.

The suit also seeks to keep Talamante from operating any day care center in the city and force him to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines and penalties. The property would then be sold at auction, with the proceeds going toward rehabilitating the location.

Police previously arrested Talamante at the same home in 2015 — also for possessing 20 kilos of cocaine, according to Feuer’s office.


Convictions Vacated for Father Facing Deportation

June 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

HIGHLAND PARK – A man whose daughter filmed his detention by federal immigration agents will likely avoid deportation due to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s concurrence with a judge’s ruling on the case, City Councilman Gil Cedillo said Wednesday.

Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel while dropping off one of his daughters at Academia Avance in Highland Park on Feb. 28. His case gained widespread attention with the dissemination of video footage taken by another of his daughters, who filmed the incident while sobbing.

Avelica-Gonzalez was detained due to two prior misdemeanor convictions for receiving stolen property in 1998 and a DUI in 2008.

A state law that took effect in January allows the court to vacate some convictions if the person charged was not fully informed of the consequences to pleading guilty or no contest.

The DUI case was vacated by the judge last month, and on Friday, his 1998 conviction was vacated by a judge who ruled that a waiver form was not properly filled out as required by state law.

The City Attorney’s Office had previously argued that Avelica-Gozalez’s argument to have the conviction vacated had no legal grounds, but City Attorney Mike Feuer’s spokesman, Rob Wilcox, said Tuesday that the judge’s ruling had “focused on facts that hadn’t been presented earlier to the court,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“The judge concluded, and our office agreed, that the waiver form was not fully consistent with wording required by state law,” he said, according to the Times.

“I’d like to thank City Attorney Mike Feuer for ensuring that Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez’s case was treated with fairness and all evidence considered in our pursuit of justice for this Angeleno. We said we were going to have a talk with the city attorney and we did,” said Cedillo, who represents the

Highland Park neighborhood where Avelica-Gonzalez was detailed.

“Romulo represents a movement for family unity and reunification, a cornerstone of our city’s values and immigration advocacy foundation,” he said. “We denounce ICE in our neighborhoods as well as the tearing apart of our families and communities. The ramifications of this arrest will endure long after this case is closed. Our people are living in fear of ICE every day.”


Fatal Crash on 110 Freeway

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A 40-year-old motorist, possibly driving drunk, was killed Sunday when he lost control of his pickup truck on the Arroyo Seco parkway (Route 110) near Highland Park, and his pickup truck smashed into a tree.

The crash was on the southbound 110 Freeway at Avenue 43 at 4:25 a.m., the California Highway Patrol reported.

The driver was a Pasadena man, at the wheel of a red 1989 Toyota pickup truck. The CHP said he made an unsafe curve, and hit the right side of the freeway.

The pickup truck continued up an embankment and struck a tree. The motorist was pronounced dead at the scene, he had no passengers aboard.

“The investigation is ongoing and alcohol consumption by the driver may be a factor in this collision,” the CHP reported.

The CHP’s Los Angeles office asked anyone who saw the crash to call them at (213) 744-2331.

Ex-Fugitive Pleads Not Guilty in Hate Crime Murder Case

February 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A Latino gang member from Highland Park, who spent more than 15 years on the run in connection with a racially motivated murder, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal charges.

Merced “Shadow” Cambero, 38, entered his plea to charges of conspiracy against rights, interference with federally protected activities, aiding and abetting, and use or discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence causing death.

U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson set a March 28 trial date in downtown Los Angeles.

Cambero was taken into custody by Mexican authorities in Baja California and turned over to the FBI at the border on Feb. 3. Federal prosecutors allege he was one of three shooters who gunned down Kenneth Kurry Wilson, a black man, in Highland Park in April 1999.

Cambero, according to federal court documents, is a member of the Avenues gang, which waged a campaign of terror against blacks in Highland Park.

The case marked the first time the federal hate crime statute had been used to combat racial violence by members of a street gang.

In 2006, three other members of the Avenues gang were sentenced to life in federal prison as part of the six-year conspiracy that also saw another black man gunned down at a bus stop in December 2000. A fourth man was convicted as a lookout in that 2000 slaying of Christopher Bowser.

Hearing Delayed for Ex-Fugitive in 2000 Highland Park Hate Crime Case

February 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Monday’s scheduled plea and trial-setting hearing for an alleged gang member from Highland Park, who spent more than a dozen years on the run in connection with two racially motivated murders, was delayed until Feb. 14.

Merced Cambero, 38, was arrested Friday at the Mexican border and transferred to a federal lockup in downtown Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He is expected to enter a not-guilty plea next week before U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, who will set a trial date.

In 2004, Cambero and four fellow alleged members of the Avenues gang were charged with conspiracy against rights, interference with federally protected activities, aiding and abetting, and use or discharge of a firearm during crime of violence causing death.

The case marked the first time the federal hate crime statute had been used to combat racial violence by members of a street gang.

During the ensuing three years, Cambero’s co-defendants were convicted and sentenced to life terms in federal prison for their roles in a gang-related conspiracy that led to the murders of two black men in the mostly Latino neighborhood claimed by the gang, prosecutors said.

Christopher Bowser was shot while waiting at a bus stop in Highland Park on Dec. 11, 2000, and Kenneth Wilson was gunned down while looking for a parking space in Highland Park on April 18, 1999.

Cambero is accused of participating in the murders.

Former Highland Park Football Coach Sentenced to 36 Years for Molesting Teens

January 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A former volunteer football coach at a Highland Park high school was sentenced last week to 36 years in state prison for sex-related acts involving five teenage boys.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ray G. Jurado imposed the term on Jaime Jimenez to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and not to contact the victims for 10 years.

Jimenez, 48, of Los Angeles, was removed from his post at Franklin High School after his April 2015 arrest, Los Angeles Unified School District officials said.

Jimenez pleaded no contest Nov. 10 to two felony counts each of continuous sexual abuse and lewd act on a child 14 to 15 years old and one count of misdemeanor sexual battery.

The five victims were between 13 to 16 years old at the time of the crimes, which occurred between August 2002 and December 2014 and did not happen on school grounds, according to Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller.


Man Convicted of Setting Fires in Highland Park

November 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A 38-year-old convicted arsonist, who’s accused of intentionally setting two fires at an address in the Highland Park area, pleaded not guilty Monday to felony charges.

Javier Viera, who was previously convicted of arson crimes in the city of Pasadena, is facing two counts of arson of a structure and one count of aggravated arson.

Viera, who’s being held on $1.58 million bail, is due back in court on Dec. 6, when a date is expected to be set for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

Viera was arrested Friday at his home, eight days after Los Angeles Fire Department investigators “responded to a suspected arson fire in the 300 block of North Kirby Street, where they encountered…Viera at the scene,” LAFD spokesman Peter Sanders said.

“At the Kirby Street fire, investigators discovered a second intentionally set fire that had failed to spread at the base of a garage,” he said.

Viera already considered a suspect in a series of deliberately set trash container and vehicle fires in May in the Highland Park area, Sanders said.

Viera was convicted of 11 counts of arson in 2014, according to the criminal complaint.

“Arson is a serious crime and we have zero tolerance for willful acts of destruction in the city of Los Angeles,” LAFD Chief Ralph M. Terrazas said after Viera’s arrest.

“We are thankful there were no injuries or lives lost as a result of these fires and we will always investigate and prosecute the serious crime of arson to the fullest extent of the law,” Terrazas said.

Tear Gas Used to End Standoff In Highland Park

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A man who allegedly threatened to kill his father was arrested Tuesday following a five-hour standoff in the Highland Park area, authorities said.

The 33-year-old man, whose name was not immediately released, was transported to a hospital after police used a stun gun to subdue him, said Officer Liliana Preciado, a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman.

No one else was injured during the standoff.

Officers were dispatched around 10:15 p.m. Monday to a report of a man with a knife threatening to kill a relative at a residence on Meridian Street near North Avenue 52, according to the LAPD.

Responding officers demanded the suspect exit the residence, but he refused and barricaded himself inside of the home, at which time a SWAT team was called, Preciado said.

An officer at the scene told KNX Newsradio that five rounds of tear gas were used to try to flush the man out of the residence before he finally emerged, still combative, forcing police to use a stun gun to get him into custody.


Jazz It Up Latin Style This Weekend

August 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Now in its third year, the 2016 Latin Jazz and Musical Festival returns to Northeast Los Angeles this weekend, with two days of great live outdoor performances, all free to attend.

The music festival will take place at Sycamore Grove Park on Figueroa Street, and is once again spearheaded by Councilman Gil Cedillo, with help from a slew of sponsors ranging from Metro to Walmart.

When Cedillo introduced the Latin Jazz and Music Festival back in 2014, he said he wanted a festival that matched Highland Park’s “authentic character and vibe.” He also wanted to make sure that the festival would appeal to the area’s young people and take into account the local area’s large Latino population.

(Office of Councilman Gil Cedillo)

(Office of Councilman Gil Cedillo)

The two-day event opens Saturday with the Plaza De La Raza Youth Ensemble at 11:45 a.m. followed by the Heart of Los Angeles Youth Big Band. Headlining Saturday night are the Latin jazz and salsa sounds of Oscar Hernandez and Alma Libre.

Sunday opens at noon with Renancimiento Trio followed by the Bravo High School Latin Jazz Ensemble. Andy Vargas and the Souleros headline Sunday; their show starts at 7 p.m.

Festivalgoers will also enjoy delicious offerings from a variety of food trucks and for those 21 and over, Highland Park’s Greyhound Bar & Grill is hosting a beer garden. This is a wheelchair accessible event for all the family, and organizers suggest bringing a chair, umbrella and sunscreen,

There’s off-street parking and shuttle service available. So walk, bike, skate or take public transportation to the Southwest Museum Metro Station.

Sycamore Grove Park is located at 4702 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park 90042. For more information, call (323) 550-1538.


Highland Park Post Raising Funds to Replace Tattered U.S. Flag

July 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The large United States flag that flew high above The Veteran’s Memorial Square in Highland Park was recently taken down after becoming unserviceable, now the community is being asked to come together and donate to purchase a new flag.

The Post Commander of American Legion Post #206, a nonprofit in Highland Park, is raising funds to purchase the flag, and has started a “go fund me” campaign to support the effort. For more information, visit American Legion Post 206’s Facebook page.

To make a donation, to

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