4 Tijuana men charged in connection with massive, possibly record-setting meth bust in National City

Authorities on Thursday mounted one of the largest meth busts ever in San Diego County, seizing more than 5,000 pounds of the drug and arresting four Tijuana men as they worked to unload it in National City, prosecutors said Friday.

Sheriff’s detectives discovered the massive haul of drugs while tracking a truck connected to another major meth seizure two months ago, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

Prosecutors charged the four men Friday in U.S. District Court with conspiracy to traffic drugs. Federal officials said the seizure was “believed to be one of the largest” ever made in San Diego County, calling it “monumental.”

The 20-foot truck allegedly carrying the drugs crossed the U.S.-Mexico border shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday through the commercial entry lanes of the Otay Mesa port, according to a probable cause statement written by DEA Special Agent Rashaad Scott .

Law enforcement officials were immediately alerted to the truck’s international border crossing because, according to Scott, “the same truck was associated with a seizure of 1,772 pounds of methamphetamine” on May 12 in San Diego.

“An alarm went off in the vehicle” and detectives were alerted because of the previous incident, Scott wrote.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Department’s Border Crime Squad followed the truck. First, the person who drove it across the border stopped at Otay Mesa and handed over the keys to another man, Scott wrote. The second driver then headed west on state route 905 and north on interstate 5 toward National City.

Sheriff’s detectives also noted a white Hyundai hatchback with three occupants and Baja California license plates staying near the truck, Scott wrote. With detectives following the two vehicles and a sheriff’s helicopter monitoring their movements from above, the truck and car eventually both ended up in a National City business district.

According to investigators, two men from the Hyundai then got into a Dodge work truck and the team began conducting “counter-surveillance,” first circling city blocks in the area, then walking and looking at other nearby vehicles. Apparently satisfied with what they saw, they eventually pulled the first van and a second U-Haul truck right behind the truck, parking on Hoover Avenue just south of West 30th Street.

While one man acted as a lookout, the other three began unloading the truck’s cargo into the two trucks, Scott wrote, adding that detectives took immediate action “fearing some of the drugs might be lost.” Two marked sheriff’s vehicles and several unmarked law enforcement vehicles sped toward the group.

Two of the men, twin brothers, took off running, but detectives quickly apprehended them and the other two men, Scott wrote. A drug-sniffing dog from the Sheriff’s Department then noted the packages the men were moving between vehicles.

Prosecutors said law enforcement officers found 148 bundles of methamphetamine that each weighed between 10 and 60 pounds, totaling more than 5,000 pounds.

According to Scott, all four men denied knowing exactly what was moving. Rafael Alzua, 37, told investigators he had been recruited to “carry some boxes”.

Ethgar Velazquez, 44, said he crossed the border from Tijuana earlier in the day after one of the twins called him and asked him to drive a truck, Scott wrote. He told investigators he was ordered to follow the white Hyundai and didn’t know it was driving drugs or thought it would be cannabis if it was any kind of drug.

The 41-year-old brothers, Mario and Galdrino Contreras, both told investigators they believed they were smuggling cannabis and would be paid for their work.

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4 Tijuana men charged in connection with massive, possibly record-setting meth bust in National City Source link 4 Tijuana men charged in connection with massive, possibly record-setting meth bust in National City

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