Agents from High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), California Multi-Jurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team (Cal-MMET), and Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency (SDEA) completed a large-scale narcotics investigation on Monday, Feb. 24, by serving search warrants at several Valley and Bay Area locations. During the investigation, agents confiscated 250 pounds of pseudo-ephedrine tablets and made three arrests.
Drug enforcement agents in Detroit, Michigan contacted local drug agents on February 14th to tell them that they had intercepted two 50-pound shipments of the pseudo-ephedrine tablets that was to be delivered to a residence in Modesto. The tablets were sent to the SDEA in Modesto on February 15th and they made a plan for a controlled delivery of the shipment to the residence in the 700 Block of Maze Boulevard.
After setting up surveillance on the residence, a controlled delivery of the package was made. A short time later, a male and female drove up to the residence and the pills were placed into the trunk of their car. Agents followed the car to a motel parking lot in Stockton, where the couple met up with Shaun Jeffery Salaun, 24, from Lodi, and picked up two more 50-pound packages of the tablets.
The couple got on to Interstate 580 and started heading toward the Bay Area. Alameda County Sheriff€™s Deputies pulled the car over on 580 in Livermore and detained the couple for SDEA agents. Upon searching the car, agents found two 50-pound boxes of pseudo-ephedrine in the vehicle and another two 50-pound boxes in the trunk. Uriel Cuevas Martinez 36, and Elodia Rios Lopez 22, both from Oakland, were taken into custody and charged with conspiracy and possession of pseudo-ephedrine with the intent to manufacture. A search of their home on the 1400 block of 96th Avenue in Oakland produced another 50-pound box of the tablets and a pound of marijuana.
Manufacturers of methamphetamine chemically break down the pseudo-ephedrine tablets until they have pure ephedrine, which is one of the main components used to make the illegal narcotic. “This amount of pseudo-ephedrine tablets could produce about 200-pounds of methamphetamine,” said HIDTA, Cal-MMET, and SDEA Commander Marvin Harper. “That could have a street value of up to three-million-dollars.”
On Monday, Feb. 24th, agents served search warrants on several Valley and Bay Area locations including the Lodi residence of Salaun who was arrested on charges of conspiracy and possession of pseudo-ephedrine with the intent to manufacture.
Authorities believe that the pseudo-ephedrine tablets originated from Canada. They also have uncovered information that this could be a small part of a larger Middle Eastern drug ring. “We are looking into the possibilities that this seizure could be related to the Middle Eastern drug trade,” said SDEA Commander Marvin Harper. “It has long been thought that some of the proceeds from this illegal drug trade goes to funding many of the Middle Eastern terrorist organizations.”
“This is a prime example of how important these federal and state multi-jurisdictional task forces are to fighting the illegal narcotics trade in our county and nationwide,” said Sheriff Les Weidman. “Without the cooperation and communication between all of the involved agencies, these cases are very difficult to solve.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 26th, all three suspects were picked up by the U.S. Marshal€™s Office and taken to Fresno where they will be indicted on Federal charges.