500 lbs. of meth seized in Contra Costa County trafficking operation

500 lbs. of Mexican meth seized in Contra Costa County trafficking operation
The photo, provided by Attorney General Kamala Harris, shows the meth and money seized by law enforcement during "Operation Road Trip."

Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Monday the seizure in Contra Costa County of about 500 pounds of methamphetamine imported from Mexico and the arrests of 22 individuals.

The drugs, worth an estimated $18 million, were seized over the last year during “Operation Road Trip” targeting Mexico’s Sinaloa Federation drug cartel, said Harris’ office, which held a media conference Monday at the Richmond Police Department.

A majority of the drugs were seized at an undisclosed location in Antioch, the Contra Costa Times reported.

Along with meth, more than $700,000 was seized during investigations by the West Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force and local, state and federal agencies.

The investigation revealed that Mexican meth was being delivered to the “Nitro” gang in Southern California, which then shipped the drugs to Contra Costa County for distribution to users or other gang traffickers, Harris’s office said.

That conclusion stemmed from a previous operation by the West Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team that in 2011 seized 135 pounds of meth and led to 26 convictions. The probe involved a Norteno gang called “Urtiz,” which investigators later learned was receiving meth from the Nitro gang.

At the time, the Nitro gang was being investigated separately in Los Angeles. The investigations in the north and south were combined and have resulted in the seizure of more than 1,100 pounds of meth worth $40.2 million on the street and 67 arrests, Harris’ office said.

California is the single largest entry point for meth in the U.S., with 70-percent entering through the San Diego Point of Entry, Harris said.

Earlier this year, Harris led a delegation of state attorneys general to meet with Mexican officials to discuss drug, human and gun trafficking, among other topics. Earlier this month, the attorney general announced that the California Dept. of Justice is forming an anti-meth task force to expressly investigate manufacturing and distribution.