MERCED, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Seven suspects, in two separate drugs cases, were arrested following the seizure of 104 pounds of methamphetamine and 40 pounds of fentanyl in Merced County, according to Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Merced County Sheriff’s Office Vern Warnke, Merced County District Attorney Nicole Silveira, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, and the California Highway Patrol announced the seizure during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Bonta says the seizures, in this case, come as a result of two separate CHP traffic enforcement stops and were turned over for further investigation to the Merced Area Gang and Narcotic Enforcement Team (MAGNET).
According to the state attorney general, on April 25, a K-9 officer from the CHP’s Central Division conducted an enforcement stop on a vehicle in Merced County. During the contact, a canine was deployed and gave a positive alert to the odor of narcotics and approximately 104 pounds of methamphetamine and 25 pounds of fentanyl were located inside the vehicle.
On April 27, a K-9 officer from the CHP’s Central Division conducted an enforcement stop on a vehicle in Merced County. During the contact, the CHP officer conducted a consent search of the vehicle, and 15 pounds of fentanyl was located in the rear passenger floorboard. As investigators with MAGNET were en route to assume the lead of the investigation, the driver had fled on foot into the foothills.
Officials estimate the drugs seized in the two incidents to be worth $4.2 million.
The driver and two passengers were arrested and booked into the Merced County Jail on charges of possession of fentanyl for sale, and transportation of fentanyl across noncontiguous counties.
“Throughout the nation, we continue to address the impacts of the opioid crisis, and have in recent years seen a marked increase in fentanyl use and associated deaths,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “This crisis is a multifaceted public health and safety issue — and addressing this crisis requires a thoughtful and strategic approach.”
Since April 2022, DOJ fentanyl seizures totaled:
- 7,153,083 fentanyl pills seized
- 1094 pounds of powder seized
- Over 200 arrests