LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Metro Officer Jesus Najera and Nevada Division of Forestry firefighter Eduardo Garcia, his brother-in-law, were arrested in an illegal narcotics operation, according to a declaration of arrest report obtained by 8 News Now.
On February 5, 2020, Metro detectives met with a source of information that was provided by the Counter Terrorism Section that pointed to the trafficking of illegal narcotics to a Metro officer and firefighter. The source said they had a friend, Norberto, who dabbled in several businesses, including recycling, marijuana-related and a hemp farm in Pahrump. The source told detectives they believed these were a cover for illegal activities.
According to the arrest report, the source said their friend was spraying hemp with THC and then selling it as marijuana.
The source also told detectives they had met two individuals through the friend, who he believed were criminal associates. The associated were identified as Najera and Garcia.
The report says the source believed Garcia, also known as “Lalo”, was a a supervisor who takes crews to fight fires out of state. The source then told detectives that the second male, Najera, worked for Metro as a patrol officer, patrolling the area near The Stratosphere and “Naked City.”
Najera offered to sell the source marijuana and assured the source that he could obtain larger amounts. The report says Najera told the source to communicate with him via WhatsApp to avoid police detection. The source then noted to detectives that Norberto, Najera and Garcia all communicated their illegal activities with a third-party app.
Metro detectives were able to identify the three suspects through business record checks, DMV records checks and LVMPD information. Garcia was identified as a Conversation Crew Supervisor III with the forestry department.
According to the report, detectives also corroborated the source’s information through observations of the suspects’ known properties and vehicles.
During a meeting between the source and Najera, they discussed selling “stuff from friends” or hemp disguised as marijuana. Najera mentioned “we” are selling the hemp, indicating he was working with Lalo (Garcia) and the other suspect on the operation. He noted he wanted to start start a strip club and wanted a bigger cut of the profits because he worked harder, the report says. Najera complained about Norberto’s greed, suggesting an even profit from the illegal activities between the three.
Detectives surveyed the suspects over a period of time. At one point they observed Garcia and an unidentified male at a warehouse loading black bags on the back of a flatbed truck. The bags, filled with THC sprayed hemp, were removed in preparation for an upcoming warehouse inspection, according to the report. A woman from the City of Las Vegas Code Enforcement inspected the warehouse on March 10.
On March 26, the source met with Garcia at his home to talk. Garcia showed the source a small marijuana grow setup in his garage and a bin containing what appeared to be six to ten pounds of THC sprayed hemp. They discussed Najera and Norberto, as well as the hemp they had to sell. Garcia said they wanted to sell the THC sprayed substance at $400 a pound, with sample pounds offered at $300.
Garcia agreed to meet a friend of the source to sell them a sample.
Metro detectives later met with the source and a confidential informant, who the report says had first hand knowledge of the purchase and sales of narcotics.
The confidential informant met with Garcia on several different occasions, including the following dates:
- March 26: The informant and the source meet with Garcia
- Garcia mentions two business partners: wealthy business owner with political connections (Norberto) and a local cop (Najera)
- Garcia told them they were in process of setting up licensed marijuana businesses and mentioned hemp farm in Pahrump
- Garcia explained process of spraying hemp with THC, saying his sister was chemist who helped come up with a formula
- Garcia gave the suspect a sample for free after explaining prices, saying he wouldn’t charge a friend
- Sample was placed in clear plastic bag, then black plastic bag that looked like those taken from warehouse earlier
- Conversations between the three suspects spiked after this meeting
- April 1: The informant calls Garcia to return sample saying potential buyers didn’t think it was strong enough
- Garcia took back sample and resprayed it, discussed more business
- Garcia told informant respraying would drive up overall price of the sample
- Garcia talked about his business partners, saying his brother-in-law was going to become a detective to obtain more information and watch over the criminal enterprise. He said one of the suspects had licenses for legal marijuana businesses (Norberto). Garcia also told the informant one of the suspects had political connections and ran the Latin Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas
- Conversation between three suspects again spiked after this meeting
- April 8: Informant meets with Garcia to obtain resprayed sample
- Informant obtains what is believed to be marijuana
- Informant observed the marijuana grow in Garcia’s garage
- Garcia mentioned he was having financial troubles
- Garcia said one of the suspects had a lot of money (Norberto) but was being stingy and wouldn’t help him
- Garcia explained respraying process again
- He appeared to invite the informant to work with him again
- Communication between suspects spiked again
- April 13: The informant buys two pounds of THC sprayed hemp from Garcia for $1,000
- Garcia told the informant the substance was good quality, gave his word as a firefighter that it was good
- Garcia said he had 160 pounds of marijuana
- Asked the informant about being a business partner again
- Communication between the suspects spiked again
- Detectives later witnessed what they believe was an exchange between Najera and Garcia for Najera’s portion of the sales. However, a hand-to-hand exchange was not witnessed as there was no clear view of the interaction
- April 22: The informant buys $1,000 worth of merchandise from Garcia
- Informant met Garcia at a warehouse downtown
- Garcia told him the hemp had just been sprayed with THC and that it had been done so twice
- Garcia talked about the business eventually becoming legal
- More communication between the three suspects on WhatsApp was recorded
Over the course of these meetings, Metro’s Forensic Laboratory tested the substances, and the following results were returned:
- March 26 sample of THC sprayed hemp: Test could not be identify as marijuana *could have been due to a variety of reasons, like it was not correctly sprayed or the THC may have evaporated over time
- April 8 sample of THC sprayed hemp: Substance was determined to be marijuana and impounded as evidence
- April 13 sample of THC sprayed hemp: Substance tested positive as marijuana
- April 22 sample of THC sprayed hemp: Analysis is currently pending
According to the report, the source met with Najera and Garcia, and they spoke about the original sample given to the informant on March 26. They also spoke about other illegal activities, such as paying for sex and cocaine. This conversation indicated Najera appeared to be an active participant in these illegal activities, the report says.
Before the informant met with Garcia on April 8, they received a picture message depicting someone spraying hemp with THC on three baking trays. Detectives surveyed the warehouse where the hemp was being sprayed and saw two men wearing clothes similar to those in the photograph.
One of the biggest items to note was the spike in communication between the three suspects after each meeting between Garcia and the informant. Communication was done via calls or texts from their phone numbers or WhatsApp. The following numbers were found after a judge authorized pen registers for the suspects’ phones:
- 548 communications from November 13, 2019 to April 15, 2020
- 123 communications between Najera and one of the suspects
- 919 communications between Najera and another one of the suspects
Detectives say the above numbers above and the fact they spiked after each meeting indicated the three were working together.
According to the report, detectives also looked at Najera’s financials. His financials revealed large withdrawals, large payments to individuals and a large wire transfer that pointed to him financing the operation from his personal account. Najera’s account went from as high as nearly $89,000 in February 2019 to as low as $402.94 in August 2019.
Two search warrants were served on April 30 in reference to illegal narcotics-related offenses, including one of the warehouse they were working out of and Garcia’s home. In both locations, they found several items related to the illegal processing of THC and marijuana, as well as the conversion of hemp into a controlled substance. They also found items that indicated Najera and Garcia were part of the operation.
Detectives found a box at the warehouse with a mailing label addressed to Najera. They found possessory paperwork in the name of Garcia at his home in relation to the marijuana grow.
At Garcia’s home, detectives recovered 32 marijuana plants, well above the 12 plants allowed by the Nevada Revised Statutes. In the warehouse, detectives recovered 1022 gross grams of THC, well over the trafficking weight of 4 grams. They also found 81 pounds of marijuana, which is over the 50 pound trafficking limit.
The report says Metro interviewed a subject who was in the warehouse with Garcia at the time the warrant was executed. He knew Garcia as “Lalo” and told detectives he was asked to bring ever clear alcohol to the warehouse. The subject said he knew the warehouse owner belonged to the Latin Chamber of Commerce and said he thought the warehouse had proper licensing to be a marijuana grow and dispensary.
During an earlier interaction between Garcia (Lalo) and the informant, the informant said his buyers liked the product they received and also wanted to buy a liter of THC oil. The subject admitted to police he obtained that requested oil and had been given $5,000 from the suspect to get it in California. Najera was observed by police on April 27 getting the money that was used for the oil.
A search warrant was also served at Najera’s residence at Stonelake Cove Apartments. Detectives recovered two baggies containing a powdery substance that later tested positive as cocaine. They also found 10 white pills identified as oxycodone/hydrochloride and a pill believed to be MDMA.
When detectives interviewed Najera, he stated Garcia was his brother-in-law. He later stated he wanted to speak to an attorney. The report says detectives obtained a search warrant for his person and vehicle, in which they recovered his phone and a box of Reynold’s Kitchens Oven Bags six-count. These same bags were later recovered at another suspect’s home.
Due to the above information, Najera was rebooked for trafficking marijuana, trafficking a controlled substance (THC oil) and possession of a controlled substance scheduled 1.