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Ventura County Sting Finds Link to Mail Theft in Downtown L.A.

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Friday, April 30, 2010, at 02:19PM
923 E. 3rd Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Mail stolen from the Arts District may help add mail theft charges to the results of a Ventura County operation that last week led to 94 arrests and the recovery of stolen vehicles, drugs and counterfeit money.

Mail theft had been a topic of particular interest in the neighborhood, where some residents and businesses had discovered that checks they had sent out hadn't be reaching their destinations. A community meeting was held on the topic last month, and one local businesswoman had taken steps to preserve surveillance video that showed suspects entering her building.

The stack of stolen mail, some with checks, with addresses extending from 3rd to 6th street were discovered in a search executed by "Operation Sudden Impact," a Ventura County investigation that started in January 2009 to recover stolen vehicles.

Over 15 months, the probe was extended to include a multitude of other crimes. Investigators ended up recovering 92 stolen cars, up to ten of which came from Downtown Los Angeles and Koreatown, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Audry Nafziger, Ventura County's lead prosecutor on the investigation.

"We now have 94 suspects," Nafziger said today. "The first round of defendants made their first court appearances for arraignments last week."

The operation is the largest the county has ever conducted, and with the added evidence, mail theft charges can now be added by the United States Postal Inspection Service, a Federal law enforcement agency.

"It's unusual, but extremely helpful," Nafziger said of footage. Five suspects alledgedly operating through the thwarted ring face additional Federal charges.

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