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ANTELOPE VALLEY'S MOST WANTED; DANGEROUS FUGITIVES TOP LIST.

Byline: Bhavna Mistry Daily News Staff Writer

Detectives in the Antelope Valley know who their most wanted are: drug dealers, gang members and armed robbery suspects, whose rap sheets go on for pages.

In the past weeks, local detectives shared their files with the Daily News and determined seven suspects as their most wanted.

From a North Carolina fugitive to a Palmdale couple wanted on suspicion of cultivating marijuana to a convicted gang member with ties to the Mexican Mafia, Antelope Valley detectives have their work cut out for them.

``These are people who have committed serious crimes,'' said Deputy Dave Miklos. ``We'd like to get them off the streets before they commit any further crimes.''

Made up of six men and one woman, the Antelope Valley seven are believed either to be still living locally or maintaining ties in the area.

Palmdale gang detectives say they are aggressively looking for four reputed gang members they describe as dangerous and likely to be armed.

``We want to send the message that if you're a gang member in Palmdale, you will be caught,'' said Deputy John Kiess. ``If you're a gang member or if you associate with gang members and you commit a crime, you will be receiving the highest possible penalties, including gang enhancements.''

Lancaster station detectives are searching for a man who escaped from a North Carolina jail and is a suspect in a brutal takeover robbery of the Lancaster Pic 'N' Save store days before Christmas 1996.

Palmdale narcotics detectives are searching for a couple - the man an ex-convict - believed to have been growing marijuana at their home.

Anyone seeing any of the following individuals is asked to contact the Palmdale sheriff's station at (805) 267-4300 or the Lancaster sheriff's station at (805) 948-8466 or leave a message on the Crime Tip Hotline at (805) 948-COPS.

Gang member

Palmdale detectives aren't the only ones searching for a 31-year-old Palmdale man known as ``Vamp.''

Francisco Javier Garcia also is being hunted by a multijurisdictional task force based in the San Fernando Valley.

A year ago, deputies arrested Garcia in his Palmdale home, where they said they found a silencer-equipped 9 mm submachine gun, AK-47 and SKS assault rifles, handguns and marijuana.

But after posting $500,000 bail, Garcia never showed up for his arraignment.

``He's known to always be armed,'' said Kiess, adding that Garcia - described as a hard-core gang member with ties to the Mexican Mafia - also keeps two bodyguards with him.

Other police agencies are investigating several homicides they believe Garcia orchestrated.

``We received information that he put out hits on those he believed informed on him,'' said Kiess. ``He doesn't kill them. He tells his underlings to go do them.''

One of the hits was aimed at his bail bondsman.

Guns and drugs

Benjamin Garcia is one of Vamp's associates. Deputies believe he separated from Francisco Garcia after a dispute over drugs and money - and which they believe led to his shooting.

``He was one of Vamp's bodyguards,'' Kiess said. ``He's from Compton, where he was a gang member and also has connections to the Mexican Mafia.''

Benjamin Garcia disappeared after gunmen shot him in his home, leaving him with a bullet hole through his abdomen.

In his home, deputies found several pounds of marijuana, a large amount of cash, two assault rifles, handguns and shell casings.

Benjamin Garcia, seriously wounded, was hospitalized.

``We were waiting to arrest him at the hospital, but he left before we got to him,'' Kiess said.

Benjamin Garcia is wanted on suspicion of being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm and narcotics.

Narcotics

Described as a self-proclaimed gang member with roots in the Los Angeles community of Lennox, Juan Carlos Bravo is wanted on a $250,000 warrant on suspicion of selling cocaine.

After telling a judge he was a good man with a job and promising to return when he was released on his own recognizance before trial, Bravo never showed up in court again.

Known as ``Little Chico,'' Bravo's 13-page rap sheet lists convictions for five felonies and one misdemeanor, including a narcotics charge, a weapons violation, assault with a firearm on a peace officer, assault with a firearm and two grand theft autos.

Parole violation

Gerardo Castaneda is wanted on a no bail warrant for violation of parole.

Castaneda's criminal history began at age 14, when he was arrested in connection with a residential burglary.

Since then he has been arrested on suspicion of possession of narcotics, theft, assault on a peace officer, felony battery on a spouse, assault with a deadly weapon on an emergency crew worker, arson and armed robbery.

``He has spent his entire life in jail or prison,'' said Kiess, flipping through Castaneda's 28-page rap sheet.

Armed robbery

A fugitive from a North Carolina court lockup, Cleofas Lewis is wanted by Lancaster detectives for the December 1996 takeover robbery of a Pic 'N' Save store.

After escaping from court while awaiting sentencing, the 37-year-old came to the Antelope Valley and moved in with his wife and 14-year-old son.

In December 1996, Lewis and his son reportedly hid inside the Pic 'N' Save until closing time. Then he put a gun to the manager's head and demanded money, officials said.

Eleven days later, the son was arrested and admitted his involvement. His mother was arrested three days later after she spent some of the stolen money on drugs.

Lewis could be anywhere in the United States, Kalita said.

``He changes all his names all the time,'' Kalita added. ``He has connections.''

Cultivating marijuana

Rene Zavala and Lorena Flores are wanted on suspicion of cultivating marijuana and keeping weapons in their Palmdale home.

When deputies went to serve a search warrant at the couple's home in the 3100 block of Heather Avenue, the two were not there, but deputies believe they still frequent the residence.

``All their stuff is still there,'' said Sgt. Pat Nelson, in charge of the Palmdale narcotics crew.

Zavala is wanted for being an ex-convict in possession of a firearm and both are wanted on suspicion of cultivating marijuana.

CAPTION(S):

7 Photos

PHOTO (1--Color) Juan Carlos Bravo, 25

Black hair, brown eyes

5'5'', 155 pounds

Wanted for possession of narcotics for sales

Last seen in 6/5/98 in Palmdale

AKA: Little Chico

(2--Color) Gerardo Castaneada, 36

black hair, brown eyes

5'7'', 215 pounds

Wanted on a no bail warrant, violation of parole

Last seen 8/11/97 in Palmdale

AKA: Curly

(3--Color) Francisco Javier Garcia, 33

black hair, brown eyes

5'8'', 140 pounds

Wanted for being a ex-felon is possession of a firearm, possesssion of narcotics.

Last seen 9/14/95 in Palmdale

AKA: Vamp

(4--Color) Cleofas Lewis, 37

black hair, brown eyes

5'7'', 200 pounds

Wanted on a no bail warrant, armed robbery

Last seen in Lancaster

AKA - Lot of aliases

(5--Color) Rene Zavala, 27

black hair, hazel eyes

5'10'', 200 pounds

Wanted for cultivating marijuana, exfelon in possession of a firearm and a no bail warrant

Last seen in Palmdale

(6--Color) Lorena Flores, 26

black hair, brown eyes

5'5'', 175 pounds

Wanted for cultivating marijuana

Last seen in Palmdale

(7--Color) Two of last year's San Fernando Valley fugitives are in custody.

News, Page 20
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.
ROBERTMARCHELLO
ROBERT THEODORE MARCHELLO (Member): Where are the pictures 10/4/2008 6:11 PM
I would like to see who these guys are ? Are there any pictures available ?

 Reader Opinion

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Article Details
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 30, 1998
Words:1208
Previous Article:VETERANS ON MISSION OF HEALING.
Next Article:ACROSS THE BOARD : THE WEEK AHEAD.


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