Three weeks after a woman was found dead under a bridge in Newport Beach, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday she had been charged in a 2012 drug deal tied to a street gang.
Newport Beach police, who investigated Nancy Hammour’s shooting death and made an arrest, declined to comment Tuesday on whether they believed the killing had gang ties.
Hammour, 28, was charged June 26 with distribution of methamphetamine, but the indictment was sealed until Tuesday. The document lays out bare-bones allegations of drug deals involving Hammour and 14 other defendants and says nothing about a gang.
But it was one of 26 indictments announced Tuesday by federal prosecutors and the FBI as part of Operation Smokin’ Aces, which they said was aimed at the Mexican Mafia in Orange County.
“All of the the defendants are considered either gang members or associates,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said about Hammour.
In a joint statement, the Santa Ana Gang Task Force said the street-level drug deals were part of the gang’s activities, along with murder, assault and extortion. The task force includes the FBI, Santa Ana police and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
The indictment says Hammour sold 13.73 grams of methamphetamine to a confidential informant Feb. 17, 2012. It also says she ordered drugs from John Terrones, who is also charged in the indictment, in phone calls Feb. 19, March 16 and April 18, 2012.
Hammour was found dead Sept. 2 under the Bay Bridge in Newport. Four days later, police arrested Jaime Prieto Rocha, 40, of Santa Ana, who has been charged with murder.
Police have released few details of why they believe Hammour was killed. Detectives would not comment Tuesday on any link between the federal indictment and their homicide investigation, police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella said.
Rocha, who is in jail, is scheduled in court Friday for an arraignment and bail review.
In an interview with the Register shortly after Hammour’s death, her sister, Yara Hayek, said Hammour had battled addiction for six years but was trying to get her life on track.
Hammour was supposed to look at an apartment soon and was trying to regain custody of her son, who was born in April, Hayek said.
Hayek said Tuesday evening she was surprised to hear her sister had been accused of being a drug dealer, especially since she was “broke.”
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Hayek said.
She said she has heard little from Newport Beach police since Rocha’s arrest, despite her attempts to get information.
By ERIC HARTLEY / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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