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David Sanchez

SANTA CRUZ -- Four men were linked to an attempt to smuggle heroin, cocaine, meth and marijuana to higher ranking gang members in Santa Cruz County Jail.

Michael Gonzalez, 22, of Watsonville tried to get arrested for a probation violation to smuggle drugs into the lockup, said Sgt. Eric Montalbo, task force supervisor of the Santa Cruz County Anti Crime Team.

During a body cavity search of Gonzalez, authorities found 28.9 grams of marijuana, 11.6 grams of black tar heroin, 4.7 grams of meth and 0.6 grams of powder cocaine.

Authorities said the plot started about 4:40 p.m. Dec. 13 when someone called to report gang activity at a shopping mall near Second and Rodriguez streets in Watsonville.

"We believe that was a false call to get the police to arrive," Montalbo said.

Officers at the mall spotted Gonzalez and 25-year-old Abraham Sanchez, who were both on probation. Both men were arrested on suspicion of a probation violation related to associating with a gang, police said.

At the Watsonville police station, officers searched Gonzalez and found the drugs in a body cavity. The substances were "meticulously packaged" to avoid contamination and reduce his risk of overdose, said Montalbo.

Gonzalez was not taken to Santa Cruz County Jail that day, but Sanchez was booked into jail for the probation violation and released the next day. Authorities investigated the alleged smuggling in the days that followed.


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Wednesday, Sanchez was in the gallery of Santa Cruz County Superior Court to watch a hearing for his brother, David Moreno Sanchez. David Moreno Sanchez faces murder charges in the 2011 homicide of 14-year-old Jesse Lopez.

Authorities believe that Abraham Sanchez conspired to have Gonzalez deliver drugs in jail to David Moreno Sanchez and Angel Antonio Moreno Torres -- who are higher ranking members of the same gang. Torres also was in court Wednesday for murder charges in a separate case.

When authorities spotted Abraham Sanchez in court building, he was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to bring drugs into jail, conspiracy to distribute drugs, and transportation and possession of drugs for sale with a gang enhancement.

Montalbo said authorities plan to recommend charges against Gonzalez -- the alleged smuggler -- to the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office. Gonzalez was not in custody on Wednesday. Conspiracy and drug charges also will be recommended against Torres, Montalbo said.

Authorities said it was not uncommon for people to try to smuggle drugs into jail. The quantities and forethought in this case merited extra concern, Montalbo said.

"This is something that unfortunately occurs more than we'd like. But this particular seize is a significant amount," Montalbo said.

The Santa Cruz County Anti Crime Team asks anyone with information to call the crime tipline at 831-454-2320.

Follow Sentinel reporter Stephen Baxter on Twitter at Twitter.com/sbaxter_sc