In unrelated incidents, a Gardena man was shot to death in the alley between 19th and 20th Streets in Santa Monica on Saturday, June 28, and the Santa Monica police participated in the June 27 Newport Beach arrest of a Canadian citizen for dealing in the controlled substance Ecstasy, a cache of which was seized in connection with the arrest.
Officers from the Santa Monica Police Department responded to a report of shots fired in the area of the 2000 block of Court 19, the alley between 19th and 20th Streets, shortly before 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 28. When they arrived at the location, they were unable to locate any victims or witnesses. But a few minutes later, while officers were canvassing the area, a local hospital notified police of a gunshot victim who had just been admitted to the hospital.
At the hospital, police determined the gunshot victim – later identified as 28-year-old Byron Lopez of Gardena – was in the area of the 2000 block of Court 19 at the time of the shooting. After he was shot, friends drove him to the hospital. While at the hospital, he succumbed to his injures.
The two suspects are only described as African Americans. This is an ongoing investigation, and anyone with additional information is encouraged to call the Santa Monica Police Department Detectives at 310.458.8451 (M – F, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) or the Watch Commander at 310.458.8427 (24 hours). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call the WeTip hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463).
The Ecstasy arrest arose out of the investigation of “several low level narcotics cases in the Santa Monica and West Los Angeles area,” said Lieutenant Doug Theus, Commander of the Santa Monica Police Department’s Office of Special Enforcement. “We believe our collaborative efforts with ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] are what led to the successful capture of this Ecstasy supplier.”
Canadian citizen Alexandru Sabau, 37, now living in Newport Beach was arrested Friday, June 27, on charges stemming from his role in a scheme to smuggle Ecstasy into the United States from Canada and exchange it for caches of cocaine. He was taken into custody by ICE agents and SMPD officers a short distance from his apartment at 9129 Residencia Street. Investigators moved in after Sabau arrived for a roadside meeting with an informant to finalize a deal to trade Ecstasy for 25 kilograms of cocaine. Inside the trunk of Sabau’s rental car authorities found approximately 100,000 Ecstasy tablets. The pills, which typically retail for $20 a tablet, would have brought as much as $2 million on the street. Agents later executed a federal search warrant at Sabau’s residence and discovered a small amount of cocaine and approximately $14,000 in cash.
Sabau is charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. The charges are the culmination of a three-month joint undercover probe involving ICE and the Santa Monica Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Ecstasy is the common name for 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as MDMA, a synthetic drug chemically similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. If convicted, Sabau faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Authorities say the investigation into the drug trafficking scheme is ongoing.