Bust yields big haul of meth

Article subtitle: 
Four are arrested in possibly the largest such drug seizure in Oregon
Article author: 
Jack Moran
Article publisher: 
The Register-Guard
Article date: 
Friday, November 2, 2012
Article category: 
Article Body: 

In what may be the largest crystal methamphetamine bust ever in Oregon, narcotics agents seized about 52 pounds of the drug while serving search warrants last weekend at five properties in Lane and Douglas counties.

Authorities have made four arrests in the case, and more are expected. The group allegedly is responsible for distributing multiple pounds of high-grade methamphetamine in Lane and Douglas counties each week for the past several months, and perhaps longer.

The estimated street value of the seized meth is $1 million, said Erik Fisher, a state police sergeant who serves as commander of Lane County’s Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team.

“I’ve never seen this much meth in one place at one time,” Fisher said. “If (the suspects) can move this kind of weight (in drugs), they’re pretty high up” in the alleged trafficking cartel.

Fisher said an investigation of the group’s dealings began “earnestly” in July, although it’s unclear how long it has allegedly operated in Lane and Douglas counties.

Agents on Sunday served warrants at the following addresses: 76919 Mosby Creek Road in Cottage Grove; 2145 31st St., Space 2 in Springfield; 2755 Nova St. in Springfield; 103 Green Lane in Eugene; and 2175 S.W. Jackie Ave. in Roseburg.

In addition to the drugs, agents recovered a stolen handgun, an undisclosed amount of cash and additional evidence of drug trafficking. An investigation is continuing.

The suspects are identified as Martin Bautista-Limon, 30; Miguel Nunez-Villanueva, 29; Ezequiel Gonzales-Jaimes, 42; and Tomas Torres Gonzalez, 27. They are not legal residents of the United States, Fisher said.

The methamphetamine seized in the case was most likely produced outside of Oregon in a so-called “super lab,” Fisher said.

Meth production in Oregon plummeted after the passage of a 2006 state law that made it illegal to sell medications containing pseudoephedrine — the key ingredient of meth — without a prescription.

In 2005, drug agents in the Portland area confiscated more than 40 pounds of methamphetamine in what was described at the time as the largest amount ever seized in the state.

It was not clear Thursday whether a single investigation in Oregon has ever yielded more than the 52 pounds seized in last weekend’s bust in Lane and Douglas counties.

Throughout 2011, authorities in Oregon seized a total of approximately 242 pounds of methamphetamine, according to statistics compiled by state police.