Four documented members of a Watsonville-based gang suspected of scheming to smuggle drugs into the county jail inside a body cavity will face charges.
Michael Gonzalez on Dec. 13 was arrested following the report of a disturbance at the Discount Mall on Second Street; agents who had been watching Gonzalez found a significant amount of drugs on him.
The drugs -- 28.9 grams of marijuana; 11.6 grams of heroin; .06 grams of cocaine and 4.7 grams of crystal methamphetamine -- were concealed in Gonzalez's rectum, officials said.
The drugs were packaged carefully so as not to contaminate the products or cause leakage and subsequent overdose, authorities said.
Agents with the Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team had been watching Gonzalez and other suspects because they had been tipped off that the drug-smuggling scheme was afoot.
The idea was to have a gang member arrested for a minor crime and to have another member oversee the operation, according to Santa Cruz County sheriff's Sgt. Eric Montalbo, task force supervisor.
The arrested gang member would then carry the drugs into the county jail for higher-ranking members, officials said.
Abraham Sanchez was found lurking at the mall the day Gonzalez was arrested, Montalbo wrote in a news release.
Both men were picked up for alleged probation violations but they were not charged at the time for the drug smuggling scheme, the sergeant wrote.
On Wednesday, Sanchez was arrested at the Santa Cruz County Courthouse, where he was attending a hearing for his two brothers, both of whom are awaiting trial on two separate murders, Montalbo reported.
The case was turned over to the District Attorney's office, where task force members expect prosecutors to prepare a case against Sanchez, Gonzalez and two others: David Sanchez and Angel Torres.
They are to be charged with conspiracy to smuggle drugs into jail; conspiracy to distribute narcotics; transportation or possession of drugs for distribution and a sentencing-enhancing gang allegation.