Four men have been arrested and charged with federal drug trafficking offenses after an estimated record-breaking two-and-a-half tons of methamphetamine was seized from a box truck that had just crossed the border between the United States and Mexico.
The incident occurred on Thursday, July 7, in National City, California, at approximately 4:55 p.m. when the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California said a commercial 20-foot box truck reportedly crossed into the United States through the Otay Mesa Commercial Port of Entry.
“Law enforcement surveilled the box truck as it travelled to Hoover and 30th Street, in National City,” the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California said in their statement. “Once there, agents observed the defendants unloading dozens of cardboard boxes from the box truck and loading them into a Dodge van.”
The four men -- all from Tijuana, Mexico, and ranging in ages from 37 to 44 -- were apprehended and taken into custody. Upon further investigation, authorities said they discovered 148 bundles of a substance located within the seized cardboard boxes. The substance field tested positive for methamphetamine and, in total, there were more than 5,000 pounds of the drug found on the truck in what authorities believe is one of the largest methamphetamine seizures ever in San Diego County.
“This is a significant accomplishment by our law enforcement partners,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “Due to stellar work by law enforcement agents, the government stopped more than 5,000 pounds of methamphetamine from being distributed on our streets.”
The defendants in the case have been named as 37-year-old Rafael Alzua, 41-year-olds Mario Contreras and Galdrino Contreras, and 44-year-old Ethgar Velazquez. They have been charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and, if found guilty, could face a maximum penalty of 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine.
“This monumental seizure represents another win against drug cartels that fuel addiction in the United States,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe. “Because of our great partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, we will continue to disrupt the cartels’ flow of drugs into our cities.”
The street value of the more than 5,000 pounds of methamphetamine is estimated to be millions of dollars.
“I am grateful for the hard work, vigilance, and steadfast dedication of our Sheriff's Detectives, as well as our local, state and federal partners,” said Sheriff Anthony C. Ray. “Our partnership and collaboration allow us to share information that is absolutely critical in keeping drugs from entering our streets and holding drug traffickers accountable.”