Slow justice for one SCV man, delays co-accused, in nationwide meth ring case

Patrick M. Fry,left, and Travis Hills-Garcia, of Santa Clarita, were two of five picked up as part of a national drug trafficking ring in 2018.
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It’s slow going for two Saugus men sitting in a Pennsylvania prison seeking justice as delays for one accused man delays the other.

Both SCV men were arrested in January for their alleged part in a nationwide meth trafficking ring, with one of the accused men acquiring a lawyer just over a week ago.

“The cases are linked and linked to the others,” said Kate Delano, spokeswoman for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office told The Signal Monday, referring to five people in all arrested in connection with the same alleged drug trafficking operation.

“Justice is sometimes slow but we get there,” she said.

Joel Travis Hills-Garcia, 29,  and 43-year-old Patrick M. Fry, both of Saugus, were among five arrested Jan. 17 after a nationwide multi-agency drug investigation pegged the “Big Five” as running a “multi-state drug trafficking organization” that mailed more than 350 pounds meth across the country between California and Pennsylvania.

Several law enforcement agencies including the FBI dismantled the “multi-state drug trafficking organization that used the U.S. Postal Service to mail packages of crystal methamphetamine and marijuana from California to traffickers in Montgomery County dating back to at least April 2016 and the arrests of five leaders who spearheaded the corrupt organization.”

The two local men were extradited to Pennsylvania shortly after their arrest.

“Hills-Garcia just had a defense counsel appointed on May 3,” Delano said. “So I doubt trial will be scheduled anytime soon.”

Fry, however, is scheduled to appear in court this Friday for a pre-trial conference, Delano said, describing his court date as “just a check in.”

Through the course of the investigation, law enforcement identified what they believed to be more than 350 pounds of illegal crystal methamphetamine and marijuana sent in multiple shipments.

The multi-agency task force arrested the drug-running group’s leaders they named as which Brian J. Holt, 42, and Lorraine Y. Zeno, 36, both of Ambler, PA.

Rounding out the arrests was a third California man, Leonardo Christian Fernandez, 34, of Monrovia.

Together, the suspects were known during the investigation as “The Big Five.”

“Through the joint efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies, we were able to shut down a significant drug trafficking organization that was operating in Southeastern Pennsylvania and work our way back to their suppliers in California,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said in January.

“This investigation again illustrates that law enforcement is united in our fight against deadly drugs of all kinds—heroin, opioids, fentanyl, methamphetamine, and pills,” he said.

“All of this poison is killing residents of Montgomery County and other communities in the region, and those that traffic this poison need to realize it’s not worth it because we are going to keep investigating, arresting and holding accountable those responsible.”

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