Monday, 20 May 2024

CHP canine team seizes 500 pounds of methamphetamine in Central Valley traffic stop

Crystal methamphetamine seized by CHP Central Division canine team in Bakersfield, California. Photo courtesy of the California Highway Patrol.

FRESNO, Calif. – In one of the largest drug seizures by a California Highway Patrol Central Division canine team, a CHP canine officer seized 500 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and arrested two suspects on several drug charges in Bakersfield last week.

The bust came on the heels of two other major drug seizures on the same day earlier this month by Central Division canine officers, whose seven teams since the beginning of the year have seized 1,384 pounds of illegal drugs, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and fentanyl, during their traffic enforcement duties.

Officers have also arrested 97 suspects on various drug charges and confiscated 17 weapons and nearly $1.3 million in cash.

At 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, a CHP officer stopped a 2017 Land Rover for a vehicle code violation on northbound State Route 99, north of 7th Standard Road in Bakersfield.

After noticing indicators of criminal activity, the officer deployed his canine, which alerted to the odor of narcotics.

During a search of the vehicle, the officer found crystal methamphetamine in several cardboard boxes in the cargo area and arrested two male suspects from Fresno who were booked into Kern County Jail on charges of possessing a controlled substance for sale and selling or transporting methamphetamine.

The case has been sent to the Kern County Narcotics Task Force.

“Illegal narcotics have a devastating effect on our communities,” said CHP Central Division Chief Ceto Ortiz. “I would like to thank our Central Division Canine Unit for its continued commitment and dedication to removing dangerous narcotics from our roadways.”

Tuesday’s arrests follow two traffic stops by Central Division canine officers on the same day recently that resulted in the combined seizure of 150 pounds of drugs — 92 pounds of cocaine and 66 pounds of methamphetamine.

On Aug. 11, at approximately 1:35 p.m., a canine officer from the CHP’s Central Division stopped a 2017 Nissan Rogue on Interstate 5 at Nees Avenue in Fresno County for a vehicle code violation.

During the contact, the officer noted several indicators of criminal activity and obtained consent to search the vehicle. During the search, the officer discovered 92 pounds of cocaine hidden within the vehicle.

Agents with the High Impact Investigations Team (HIIT) responded to the scene and assumed the investigation.

The driver, Umar Ovalle, 35, of King County, Washington, was subsequently booked into the Fresno County Jail on charges of possession of cocaine for sale, transportation of cocaine across noncontiguous counties, and possession of a compartment used to transport narcotics.

Later that day, at approximately 3:15 p.m., a second CHP Central Division canine officer stopped a Nissan Frontier along State Route 99 north of Avenue 24 in Tulare County for a vehicle code violation.

During the contact, the officer noticed signs of criminal activity and deployed the canine to search the exterior of the pickup.

The canine alerted to the odor of narcotics and a subsequent search resulted in the recovery of approximately 66 pounds of methamphetamine on the rear seat.

The driver, Miguel Oropeza, 32, of Kern County was taken into custody without incident and booked into the Kern County Jail on charges of possession of methamphetamine for sale and transportation of methamphetamine across noncontiguous counties.

“I am extremely proud of the work of our canine teams throughout the state, who are working tirelessly to identify drug traffickers and remove illegal weapons and drugs from our communities,” said CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray. “Our efforts to arrest those using our freeways for dangerous illegal activity will continue.”

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