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$1.8 million in drugs seized in multi-agency drug trafficking operation

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV) -- More than $1 million dollars worth of illegal drugs are now off the streets in Monterey County, thanks to a multi-agency effort led by the Salinas Police Department.

Police say the bust is in connection to a trucking company registered out of Salinas, Nor Cal Transportation, that is suspected of trafficking drugs between the city and Yuma County, Arizona.

The investigation, given the name "Operation Black Hawk", started 5 months ago. Police say multiple traffic stops and search warrants led to the seizure of $1.8 million dollars worth of drugs. Including:

  • 25,000 fentanyl pills
  • 60 pounds of methamphethamine
  • 5 pounds of heroin
  • and 1.5 pounds of cocaine

"One of the major traffic stops we recovered 50 pounds of methamphetamine along with the fentanyl pills inside of a spare tire," Investigation Commander Jim Arensdorf said during a press conference Thursday morning. "That was being transported from Yuma en route to the Monterey County area."

Investigators also seized 9 firearms and $90,000 in cash and cashier's checks.

"This investigation had a huge financial seizure. Not the type that we have typically seen in Monterey County," said DEA Special Agent Shawn Foust. "Pharmaceutical drugs that are counterfeit and contain fentanyl have been seen all across the county in overdose cases, and it's a direct result of this kind of fentanyl."

On September 9, the Salinas Police Department and assisting agencies served five search warrants in Salinas. At the same time, four search warrants were executed in Yuma County. Eight people have been arrested so far, on charges of conspiracy to transport and distribute narcotics, firearms possession and conspiracy to commit murder. Investigators believe they have been working directly with a Mexican cartel and Salinas gang leaders.

Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni says this bust will help save lives.

"In recent years, communities throughout Monterey County have seen an uptick in tragic overdose deaths," said Pacioni. "The results of this investigation mark a blow to those who profit over life and make clear law enforcement's commitment to reversing the tide of the opioid epidemic and holding its perpetrators accountable."

More than 170 law enforcement personnel from multiple agencies have been working together on this investigation. Salinas police say the investigation is ongoing and there may be more arrests in the future. They are also still investigating the suspects' ties to Mexico.

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Victor Guzman

Victor Guzman is the Assistant News Director at KION News Channel 5/46.


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