3 arrested in Irvine part of 'transnational organized crime ring'

IRVINE, Calif. - Police in Irvine arrested three people over the weekend they believe were part of a "transnational organized crime ring."

The arrests happened around 7 p.m. Friday. The Irvine Police Department said because of a spike in home robberies in the city over the last month, officers were doing surveillance in the Turtle Rock and Shady Canyon neighborhoods that night, when they found what they called a "suspicious vehicle" in a parking lot near Boomer Canyon.

There were three men inside the car. When officers tried to stop them, the driver drove away. Officers said that "the men were not from the area and appeared to have no reason to be in Irvine."

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Eventually, officers stopped the car and searched it. Inside, officers said they found burglary tools, and each of the men also had pet deterrent, shoe covers and masks.

"Based on the totality of circumstances, the trio appeared to be casing the area to commit residential burglaries and were arrested for conspiracy to commit burglary, providing false information to a police officer, and possession of burglary tools," the department said in a statement.

<div>(L-R) Julio Cordova-Martinez, Ricardo Navarete-Loyola and Leopoldo Jara-Araya (Photos courtesy of the Irvine Police Department)</div>
(L-R) Julio Cordova-Martinez, Ricardo Navarete-Loyola and Leopoldo Jara-Araya (Photos courtesy of the Irvine Police Department)

Police identified the driver of the car as 55-year-old Julio Cordova-Martinez. Also in the car were Ricard Navarete-Loyola, 19, and Leopoldo Jara-Araya. All three of the men were from Chile.

Officers arrested all three of them and booked them at the Orange County Jail.