Four Tijuana, Mexico residents face federal drug trafficking charges in connection with a Southern California methamphetamine seizure that authorities say it was “record” for its size.
The suspects, identified as Rafael Alzua, 37, Galdrino Contreras, 41, Mario Contreras, 41, and Ethgar Velazquez, 44, are accused of attempting to transport large amounts of methamphetamine after police. He found them on Thursday unloading a vehicle full of the illegal substance.
Agents tracked the group to a point in San Diego County’s National City after noticing that a 20-foot-long commercial box truck had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border through a point of entry in Otay Mesa, near Tijuana. The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California alleges that officers later saw the men removing dozens of cardboard boxes from the truck and into a Dodge van. Both vehicles allegedly contained about 148 packages of a material that tested positive for methamphetamine, according to the release.
San Diego Sherriff / Twitter
Federal authorities said the contents of the seized packages weighed more than 5,000 pounds, an amount they believe constituted at least one of the largest meth busts in San Diego County history.
All four men were arrested during the seizure and charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, classified as Schedule II controlled substance due to its high potential for dependence and recreational abuse. If convicted, these charges carry substantial maximum penalties that include a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison along with a $10 million fine.
“This monumental seizure represents another victory against the drug cartels that fuel addiction in America,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe in a statement issued with the U.S. Attorney’s press release. USA “Because of our strong partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, we will continue to disrupt the flow of cartel drugs into our cities.”
Deaths related to methamphetamine use have been on the rise in San Diego in recent years. Large quantities of the drug have been discovered in trucks that entered the country through the Otay Mesa commercial entry point earlier.
#KeepingYouSafe @SDSheriff K-9 Milo is a very good guy after helping our deputies and law enforcement officers make one of the largest meth busts in #SanDiegoCounty history Read the news here: #Teamwork @HSISanDiego @DEASANDIEGODiv pic.twitter.com/v68GWLy42O
— San Diego Sheriff (@SDSheriff) July 9, 2022
Opioid Epidemic in the United States