22 Charged in Drug Ring Bust That Netted 12,900 Pounds of Meth

22 Charged in Drug Ring Bust That Netted 12,900 Pounds of Meth

Methamphetamine seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa Commercial Facility in San Diego County on May 18, 2021. (Courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Rudy Blalock
Rudy Blalock

6/21/2024

Updated: 6/24/2024

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Twenty-two people have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Fresno, California, over alleged smuggling of more than 12,000 pounds of methamphetamine and dozens of pounds of fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin from Mexico, prosecutors recently announced.
The drug smuggling ring is accused of stashing liquid, powder, and pill versions of the drugs inside portable projectors, batteries, semi-trucks and even in the gas tanks of cars—all while being tracked by GPS devices—according to a June 17 press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California.
“Criminal organizations that bring drugs here like methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin in large quantities for profit pose a direct threat to the residents of the Eastern District of California,” said U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert in the announcement.
At least 12 suspects were from Southern California towns ranging from Lancaster in northern Los Angeles County to Chula Vista near the border, and one was from Pittsburg in the Bay Area.
Federal law enforcement in total seized 12,900 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 50 pounds of fentanyl laced with other unspecified drugs, 39 pounds of cocaine, and 22 pounds of heroin.
The smugglers allegedly used a legitimate transportation business to hide the drugs in the batteries and portable projectors and separately sneaked hundreds of pounds of liquid methamphetamine through semi-trucks and cars.
Special agent Sid Patel of the FBI’s Sacramento Field Office said in the press release that the drug bust was carried out thanks to a collaboration of state, federal, and local law enforcement groups.
“This operation exemplifies the FBI’s commitment to collaborative investigations aimed at disrupting drug trafficking organizations who import dangerous drugs including fentanyl into our communities,” Mr. Patel said.
Some of the defendants include Adolfo Montiel, 45, who was accused of using his Lancaster residence as a “stash house” between January and March 2023, and Jose Nunez, 42, also of Lancaster, who allegedly used his residences in Los Angeles County for the same between April 2023 and May 2024, in addition to allegedly operating a methamphetamine lab in Los Angeles. The stash houses were allegedly used to store, package, and distribute large amounts of the drugs, according to the press release.
A few others charged also allegedly helped store the drugs, and Ruben Saenz, 36, of Los Angeles transported over 4,700 pounds of meth across the border in a semi-truck, prosecutors said.
If convicted, some of the defendants face mandatory minimum sentences of five to 10 years and maximum sentences of 20 years, 40 years, and life in prison, according to the attorney’s office.
The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, a combination of federal, state, and local partners that targets top criminal organizations in the United States.
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Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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