Detectives with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s COBRA Team made another break in the case of several school break-ins that occurred over spring break, officials said.
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Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies Wilson and Quintana arrested Michael Estrada, 22, of La Puente, on drug possession charges Tuesday, a Sheriff’s Station official said Wednesday.
Estrada was arrested after a pedestrian stop on the 27300 block of Fahren Court in Canyon Country, where he was found to be in possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, deputies said.
Further investigation by detectives also revealed that he is suspected to be involved in the break-in at Sierra Vista Junior High School in Canyon Country, said Detective Mark Barretto of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s COBRA Team.
“Throughout the investigation, it was concluded that he was one of the participants of (the Sierra Vista Junior High) burglary,” Barretto said. “He’s being charged with burglary and methamphetamine possession.”
The station’s COBRA Team handles all juvenile and gang-related crimes. Estrada is suspected of being a gang member, Barretto said.
“He was a second suspect in this burglary, and he was arrested for it” Barretto said, noting that he couldn’t for sure say if there would be more arrests, but it was possible.
“So far, this one we have him connected to — we believe he’s involved in other ones,” he said. “It’s still somewhat an ongoing investigation.”
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials are still investigating the break-ins at Old Orchard and Newhall elementaries, as well as Hart High.
Estrada is the second gang member charged in connection with the school break-ins.
Two other individuals, one a convicted gang member, the other a 17-year-old, were also arrested in connection with the Santa Clarita Valley school break-ins.
Gonzalo Ortiz, 20, of Newhall, will receive a one-year sentence, and three years probation, as the terms of a plea deal, according to Sera Boyadjian, deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County.
Detectives sought the public’s help in identifying school burglars who were caught on camera.
“He pleaded to Count 1, which is a second degree commercial burglary charge, and received 365 days in county jail, and three years probation, with gang conditions imposed,” Boyadjian said.
“There are also search conditions, but that’s standard,” she said.
The gang conditions mean Ortiz is not allowed to hang around with gang members or participate in any gang activity — a condition reserved for gang members, she said.
Because there is an Immigrations and Custom Enforcement hold in his online record with the Sheriff’s Department, it’s possible that Ortiz could be deported after serving his sentence, according to an official with the District Attorney’s Office.
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Source: Santa Clarita News