Crime

Police, DEA seize nearly 70 pounds of cartel meth. It may be Fresno’s biggest bust

Fresno police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration followed up a Thursday night 11-pound methamphetamine bust with the seizure of 56 more pounds of the drug Friday in Dinuba, authorities reported.

It may be the largest seizure of of the drug by Fresno police, Chief Jerry Dyer said. The meth, along with nearly three pounds of cocaine, are linked to a Mexican cartel in Michoacán. Dyer and Chris Coleman of the DEA announced the seizure in a news conference Friday afternoon.

Arrested were Francisco Rafael Gonzalez Navarro, 24, Alfonso Ortega Cruz, 38, and Ponce Orjelio Galvan, 25.

Gonzalez Navarro was taken into custody Thursday after narcotics officers pulled over a Toyota Corolla at Ventura and F streets and a search dog found 11 pounds of meth stashed near a wheel well. The chief did not say exactly how, but drug officers linked that stop to a trailer court in Dinuba in the 9300 block of Avenue 392. Officers raided six trailers there, and recovered the 56 pounds of meth, nearly three pounds of cocaine, hundreds of rounds of military-caliber .308 rifle ammunition and a Glock handgun.

Arrested there were Ortega Cruz and Orjelio Galvan. Dyer said the two men were tied to a Michoacán cartel, but he wouldn’t identify which one. Michoacán is a battleground between several warring cartels, including the Sinaloa Cartel and the New Generation Jalisco Cartel.

Dyer said that he could not identify the cartel.

“There are several reasons for that,” said Dyer. “One is, we do not want to compromise other investigations, and secondly, we do not want to get somebody killed.”

Also Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that an undercover officer in Fresno helped take 45 pounds of meth off the street in police action last month.

The office said that according to federal court documents, Los Angeles residents Josue Garcia-Beltran, 40, and Rafael Medina Labrada, 34, were arrested Feb. 25 delivering meth to the officer. The men were indicted by a Fresno federal grand jury on Thursday.

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