Record-setting DEA busts net 5,200 pounds of meth valued at more than $25M

MONTEBELLO, Calif. — Federal drug enforcement agents in California seized more than 5,200 pounds of crystal methamphetamine in a pair of recent record-setting busts believed to be tied to a Mexican drug cartel.

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“These two seizures are more than enough to provide a dose of meth for every man, woman and child in the United States and Mexico,” Timothy Shea, acting administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said during a Wednesday news conference that tied the hauls to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel.

“That’s worth repeating. This is enough dope to provide a dose of meth for every man, woman and child in the United States and Mexico. It’s a massive amount,” Shea said.

And some of the illegal narcotics involved in the first bust and concealed inside duffle bags was reportedly passed between cars in public, including at a Sam’s Club parking lot in Moreno Valley, KCAL reported.

Following the apparent drop at the wholesale club, officers with the Fontana Police Department obtained search warrants for both the Moreno Valley home of a suspected courier and a separate stash house in Perris. Between the two homes, authorities discovered 2,200 pounds of meth, 460 kilograms of cocaine and six kilograms of heroin on Oct. 2, making it the largest domestic bust in the agency’s history, the DEA stated.

DEA spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told The Press-Enterprise that the seized drugs represent a wholesale value of roughly $18 million.

“Someone who’s responsible for this quantity of drugs is someone who is very, very trusted by the cartels,” Bill Bodner, DEA special agent in charge for the Los Angeles field division, said during the news conference.

“A low-level operative would not be trusted to hold $18 million of drugs in a house. It just wouldn’t happen, so these are high-level individuals,” he added.

The Oct. 2 bust was followed one week later by the seizure of more than 3,000 pounds of meth, 64 pounds of heroin, 29 pounds of fentanyl powder and almost 37 pounds of fentanyl pills – worth an estimated $7.2 million - at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on the Mexican border. That seizure is considered

The seizures were part of the DEA’s ongoing “Operation Crystal Shield,” targeting cities where meth is often trafficked in bulk. In September, U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Shea announced that agents working the campaign had seized more than 28,000 pounds of meth, $43.3 million in drug proceeds and 284 firearms, CNN reported.