Gift card fraud leads to drug, counterfeiting arrests


San Mateo police stopped the two suspects on Wednesday shortly before 1:30 p.m. after a suspicious transaction involving gift cards at a store on the 500 block of East Fourth Street, according to Sgt. Dave Norris.

The suspects, Willie Lozano, 55, and Phong Le, 32, were found parked in a gray Mercedes nearby and arrested on outstanding warrants.

The arrest turned into something more, however, when a search yielded not only fraudulent gift cards and evidence of identity theft, but also more than 10 pounds of marijuana in the car, Norris said.

Working with the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service, investigators located a third suspect, Charles Ryan Angeles, 31, and arrested him in San Jose. They also seized numerous fake credit cards and ID cards, machinery used to manufacture fake credit cards and weapons including an assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine, Norris said.

San Mateo narcotics officers, meanwhile, located and arrested two additional suspects in San Jose, Duy Nguyen, 32, and Thao "Tammy" Nguyen, 25, in connection with the marijuana.

Lozano was booked into San Mateo County Jail on suspicion of identity theft and conspiracy, Le for transportation and possession for sale of marijuana and conspiracy and Angeles for conspiracy, identity theft, counterfeiting and use of fraudulent access cards, counterfeit identification, possession of a fraudulent identification and possession of a high capacity assault rifle magazine.

Duy Nguyen was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of conspiracy, possession of methamphetamine for sale and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. Thao Nguyen was also booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of conspiracy and possession of methamphetamine for sale.

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