Five men charged in an alleged cocaine-trafficking conspiracy are scheduled to appear in court this week, and three more could be awaiting trial in the case.
The Lake Havasu City Police Department has now released additional information in the two-year investigation that led to each of their arrests. Among them, police have identified the owners or co-owners of three local businesses, including a hair salon, an air conditioner business and a landscaping company.
Police say the alleged conspiracy was led by Alonso Mendoza, 38, of Phoenix, who may have arranged more than 200 deliveries of cocaine to locations throughout Havasu by an alleged intermediary, 29-year-old Havasu resident Christian Nava.
Nava was arrested in February 2020 during a traffic stop in the area of SARA Park. According to police, Nava was stopped when patrol officers observed him following too closely behind another driver on State Route 95, entering Lake Havasu City. A police K-9 unit arrived to assist in the stop, the report said, and the K-9 allegedly alerted officers to the presence of narcotics in Nava’s vehicle.
According to police, Nava was detained at the scene, and officers found a grocery bag containing about $982 in cash, a mobile phone and about one pound of suspected cocaine in 16 individually-wrapped bags.
Investigators say Nava’s phone contained an exchange of text messages to Mendoza, throughout which Mendoza allegedly directed Nava quantitites of cocaine to locations throughout the city. Nava was also allegedly found to have picked up money from buyers to deliver to Mendoza as well, police said.
Nava was charged last year with counts of possession and transportation of narcotics for sale; and using a communications device for a drug transaction. The case was dismissed last May – with prosecutors maintaining the option of bringing those charges back at a future date – in lieu of further investigation into the case.
According to police, text messages recovered from Nava’s phone indicated that quantities of cocaine had been shipped at Mendoza’s direction on a regular basis to Nicanor Corona, 38 – and to Mendoza’s brother, Fernando Mendoza, 35, both of Havasu. Fernando Mendoza was identified by police records as the owner of Lakefront AC, in Havasu.
Through the course of their investigation, police allegedly learned that Alonso Mendoza would be traveling to Havasu on March 11, with the intent of personally transporting cocaine for sale in Lake Havasu City.
As officers waited to intercept Mendoza’s vehicle, investigators obtained a warrant from Lake Havasu Municipal Judge Mitchell Kalauli, to stop and search his vehicle. Detectives would also serve a warrant to search an Empire Drive storage locker known to be used by Mendoza.
On the same day, Lake Havasu City Justice of the Peace Jill Davis authorized a warrant to search Alonso Mendoza’s residence in Phoenix. Deputies of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office were accompanied by Lake Havasu City Police and Mohave County officials, as well as agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency while serving that warrant.
Lake Havasu City Police officers stopped Mendoza’s vehicle near the intersection of SR 95 and South McCulloch Boulevard. Mendoza was in the vehicle, the report said, accompanied by 35-year-old Yohanna Altamirano, of Phoenix. Mendoza and Altamirano were detained as officers searched the vehicle.
According to police, a key allegedly belonging to Mendoza’s storage unit was found during a search of the truck.
During a search of Mendoza’s storage unit, officers allegedly found about nine ounces of cocaine, packaging material and a digital scale.
At Mendoza’s home in Phoenix, law enforcement officials found a mobile phone allegedly belonging to Mendoza, with text messages detailing an alleged shipment of drugs to be delivered that day to a party not identified in the report. Police say the buyer was told in the same text conversation to give money to 34-year-old Havasu resident Mario Delgado as payment for the alleged shipment of cocaine.
According to the police report, Mendoza declined to speak with Lake Havasu City Police detectives without the presence of an attorney.
Police continued to investigate Delgado, Corona and Fernando Mendoza as alleged co-conspirators in the case. Alonso Mendoza was allegedly known to visit his brother on multiple occasions while under surveillance during the investigation. All three were taken into custody when police investigation in the case concluded earlier this month.
Active surveillance at Fernando Mendoza’s home, as well as text messages later recovered by officers allegedly showed that the three men regularly received shipments of cocaine from Nava and Alonso Mendoza. According to police, Delgado’s message history on Facebook made clear that Delgado was selling cocaine to Lake Havasu City residents.
Lake Havasu City resident Julio C. Cabrera-Leon, 36, was also arrested and charged on one count of possession of narcotic drugs for sale. Cabrera-Leon, who has been identified by police records as the co-owner of Fleek Hair Studio in Havasu, allegedly admitted to having been at Fernando Mendoza’s residence for parties prior to his arrest. According to Cabrera-Leon’s statements, Mendoza would often have cocaine available for use by guests.
Lake Havasu City resident Michael Brewer, 36, was also charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotic drugs in the case. Police could not elaborate on the extent of Brewer’s alleged involvement in the case as of Wednesday. Brewer is the owner of River Palm Landscaping, in Lake Havasu City.
Alonso Mendoza was arraigned April 5 on charges of conspiracy to sell narcotic drugs. He and Altamirano have since been released from custody on $100,000 bond, each.
Delgado, Nava, Cabrera-Leon, Corona and Fernando Mendoza were jointly indicted on April 22. Their arraignment is scheduled to take place Friday in Mohave Superior Court.