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Agents Seize 176 lbs. of Methamphetamine in Central Valley

Friday, March 21, 2014
Contact: (415) 703-5837

FRESNO – Agents from a California Department of Justice task force joined with California Highway Patrol and federal investigators Thursday night to seize 176 pounds of crystal methamphetamine during the execution of a search warrant at a Madera home. The seizure is one of the largest methamphetamine caches uncovered in the Central Valley.

“Methamphetamine is a very serious threat to California’s public health and safety, and is frequently trafficked by transnational criminal organizations,” Attorney General Harris said. “This seizure highlights the importance of strong collaboration between the California Department of Justice and local, state and federal partners to dismantle these organizations and keep our communities safe.”

Thursday night’s seizure came just hours after Attorney General Harris issued the first comprehensive report analyzing the current state of transnational criminal organizations in California and the threats they pose to the state’s public safety and economy. The report estimates that Mexican organized crime groups smuggle an estimated 70 percent of the foreign-produced U.S. supply of methamphetamine through California’s border crossings. View the report here: https://oag.ca.gov/transnational-organized-crime.

Preliminary evidence indicates the methamphetamine in the residence was likely smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico in liquid form, then converted into its crystalized form at the Madera residence for subsequent distribution.

Agents discovered the methamphetamine, much of it in crystalized form, scattered throughout multiple rooms in the Madera residence. They also found a lab used to convert liquid methamphetamine into its crystalized form. While initial estimates place the value of the seized methamphetamine at approximately $750,000, authorities say it could exceed $1 million, pending final laboratory tests to determine its purity.

In addition to the drugs, investigators also seized other evidence at the scene, including $58,000 in cash. The residence was vacant at the time of the search and no arrests were made overnight. However, authorities emphasize the investigation is continuing.

The ongoing probe is being conducted by the Central Valley Marijuana Investigation Team (CVMIT) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with substantial assistance provided by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Other agencies participating on the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Initiative (HIDTA) include the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the Fresno Sheriffs Department, Madera and Tulare counties; the Fresno and Madera Police Departments; and the State of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“There’s no question this seizure has dealt a significant blow to the criminal organization behind this operation,” said Tatum King, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Francisco, which oversees the agency’s enforcement activities in the Central Valley. “Methamphetamine is a powerful drug that devastates entire communities. By keeping this dangerous contraband from reaching our streets reaching our streets, we’ve potentially saved untold lives.”

Thursday’s search warrant was the result of intelligence information provided by the CHP.

“This case is a prime example of the ongoing collaborative efforts between local, state and federal authorities to combat the illicit flow of narcotics through our communities,” said Jason Daughrity, CHP canine unit sergeant.

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