A task force of federal and local law enforcement in Tulare County tracked down and seized nearly 1,000 pounds of crystal methamphetamine on its way to Sacramento County.
The nine-month federal investigation culminated last week, when authorities served search warrants at five locations in Tulare County, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday. Investigators arrested three men and confiscated 14 firearms, $50,000 in cash and 4,000 pounds of liquid meth still being processed in clandestine labs.
Sheriff’s officials said the meth was smuggled across the border from Mexico and was being prepared to be transported into Sacramento County. Sacramento sheriff’s investigators played an integral role in the expansive investigation and assisted in serving the search warrants on May 17.
“This is a record for us. The fact that we got so much all at one time is what’s out of the ordinary,” said Sgt. Amar Gandhi, a Sacramento sheriff’s spokesman. “This is just what we caught. We don’t know what else got through.”
He said Sacramento County’s centralized location unfortunately makes it a “perfect hub” for drug traffickers, using the capital region’s freeways to easily transport the drugs to the Bay Area, other areas of Northern California or throughout the U.S.
Even the liquid meth was destined for Sacramento County, Gandhi said. Some of the drugs were planned for sales to users locally. He said the meth is usually cut with other drugs, sometimes the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl, before it’s sold on Sacramento County streets.
The investigators in Tulare County discovered and dismantled two active meth conversion laboratories with numerous 55-gallon drums filled with the liquid meth in various stages of conversion, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
A 35-year-old man and 39-year-old man, both of Tulare, and 37-year-old man from Jalisco, Mexico, were arrested at the scene. They face federal charges and were booked at the Fresno County Jail.
Members of the Sacramento Area Intelligence and Narcotics Team participated in the investigation into “a major drug trafficking organization” based in Tulare County. Investigators from Central Valley California High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area team and the California Multi-Jurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team also worked collaboratively in the investigation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Fresno.