MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The largest drug seizure in Madera County was announced by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday morning.
In a press conference with Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue and Madera County District Attorney Sally Moreno, it was announced that they have concluded “Operation Trifecta”, which resulted in the seizure of 1,300 pounds of illegal drugs, over 30 arrests, the shutdown of four methamphetamine labs, and the seizure of seven firearms.
Officials say the joint investigation started in July of 2022 with the investigation of the drug trafficking activities of Ernesto Beltran. They discovered that Beltran was part of a large-scale Mexico-based drug trafficking organization that is responsible for the importation, manufacturing, and distribution of methamphetamine throughout the state of California as well as neighboring states.
According to officials, they were able to identify a large number of individuals that were involved in the importation, transportation, manufacturing, and distribution of methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl.
Officials say that the investigation showed that the methamphetamine was being transported in both liquid and solid form and entering the United States through various points of entry. Once in the country, it would make its way to what is known as ice recovery labs where it was turned into a crystal form of methamphetamine. Then it was distributed throughout the state.
Electronic intercepts were implemented by the investigators to identify when drugs were being transported. This resulted in several traffic stops where over 230 pounds of methamphetamine were seized according to the Sheriff’s Office. In a separate incident, detectives coordinated the intercept of a vehicle coming from Mexico that was carrying 70 pounds of methamphetamine concealed in the spare tire.
During the investigation officials say a methamphetamine conversion lab was discovered in Ducor, California that resulted in the seizure of 500 pounds of finished product and 500 pounds of liquid product.
Starting on October 26 officials say search warrants were served in Madera, Fresno, Merced, and Tulare Counties during which time investigators discovered three more labs and made multiple arrests. Overall 4 labs were found one in Madera County, two in Fresno County, and one in Tulare County.
Overall the investigation has resulted in the seizure of 1,300 pounds of methamphetamine, four kilos of heroin, and two kilos of fentanyl, according to officials. This equates to over 5 million individual doses of meth, over 10 thousand doses of heroin, and more than 600 thousand potentially fatal doses of fentanyl.
The arrests that were made of the individuals associated with the organization have resulted in various felony and misdemeanor charges that include the transportation and selling of methamphetamine, manufacturing methamphetamine, child endangerment, and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine according to officials. The bail amounts range from $500,000 to $10 million.
This was a joint investigation by the Regional Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team which is comprised of detectives from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, Chowchilla Police Department, Madera County Probation Department, Madera Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol. Also assisting the investigations were the High Impact Investigation Team and the Fresno Drug Enforcement Administration.