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DEA announces biggest meth bust in U.S. history in Southern California

The DEA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents made huge meth busts in recent weeks.

CALIFORNIA, USA — Federal agents announced what they called the largest methamphetamine bust in U.S. history Wednesday, displaying a 10-foot high pile of the confiscated drug representing a haul of more than 2,200 pounds seized at stash houses in Riverside County, along with cocaine and heroin.

"This is enough dope to provide a dose of meth for every man, woman, and child in the United States and Mexico," DEA Acting Administrator Timothy Shea said. "Study after study shows that where there is meth addiction, there is also an uptick in violent crime, including robberies, assaults, and murders."

Operation Crystal Shield is a nationwide effort involving 70 to 80 investigators in nine cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, and Atlanta. Agents seized more than 4,800 pounds of meth nationwide and are still working on more arrests, according to the DEA. 

DEA agents said there's been an uptick in arrests saying they have made 2,800 arrests in the last six months. 

"It seems to us that there's a bit of desperation for cartels to try and get meth and fentanyl into the U.S.," said DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge John Callery

The Southern California seizure occurred on Oct. 2, 2020, and included 893 pounds of cocaine, 13 pounds of heroin, and 2,224 pounds of methamphetamine. CBP agents stopped a tractor-trailer with medical supplies and a closer look found drugs inside. 

"It's much more difficult for them to traffic the traditional way so we see them stockpiling and bringing in larger and larger amounts across in one shot," said Callery. 

Agents from Southwest Border Group 2 began investigating a large scale drug trafficking organization with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel in the San Diego-Otay Mesa area, allegedly involved in the transportation and delivery of large quantities of drugs.

The investigation led to search warrants at multiple narcotic stash houses in Moreno Valley and Perris in Riverside County, officials said.

The drugs were intended for distribution in Southern California, including Los Angeles, according to DEA officials, who displayed the haul at the agency's warehouse in an undisclosed location in Los Angeles County. 

Callery said there is a supply issue right now and that's driving up the cost of meth. A 47-year old man from Mexico was arrested and turned over to a joint investigative team from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA said he will face criminal charges.

This was not the only huge meth seizure in the region. On Oct. 9, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized more than 3,000 pounds of meth at San Diego's Otay Mesa border crossing.

Credit: Drug Enforcement Administration via AP
This undated image provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration shows narcotics stashed in a house in Perris, Calif. DEA agents authored state search warrants for multiple locations, including the courier target's residence and a narcotics stash house within the city of Perris, Calif. During a search of the courier's residence, agents located approximately 25 duffle bags within the garage of the residence containing approximately 406 kilograms of cocaine, six kilograms of heroin, and 650 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, and approximately 1,600 pounds of crystal methamphetamine. (Drug Enforcement Administration via AP)

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