Feds al­legedly find 20 pounds of meth

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FRONT PAGE - By Nate Gartrell

An un­der­cover op­er­a­tion by the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion led fed­eral agents to a Rich­mond home.

RICH­MOND >> An un­der­cover op­er­a­tion by the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion led fed­eral agents to a Rich­mond home, where they al­legedly con­ducted a raid that yielded 20 pounds of metham­phetamine.

Ac­cord­ing to the DEA, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion started when a sus­pected mid­dle­man meth dealer un­wit­tingly led agents to his sup­plier, a Rich­mond man named Juan Luis Con­tr­eras-Ro­driguez, who al­legedly goes by the nick­name “El Di­ablo.”

Con­tr­eras-Ro­driguez, along with Hec­tor Estrada Cer­vantes, were charged Thurs­day with con­spir­acy to dis­trib­ute 50 grams or more of meth, a fed­eral of­fense that car­ries a min­i­mum of five years in prison, and a max­i­mum of 40 years, along with a max­i­mum $5 mil­lion fine.

The com­plaint al­leges that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion started when Cer­vantes al­legedly con­tacted an un­der­cover DEA agent out of the blue, and ne­go­ti­ated a one­pound meth deal for $2,000.

Dur­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions, Cer­vantes al­legedly men­tioned the meth would be de­liv­ered from Rich­mond. Cer­vantes then put his source on speak­er­phone, who iden­ti­fied him­self to the un­der­cover agent as “El Di­ablo.” Au­thor­i­ties later iden­ti­fied him as Con­tr­eras-Ro­driguez, the com­plaint al­leges.

Af­ter a sub­se­quent two­pound deal in San Jose, the un­der­cover agent ne­go­ti­ated the sale of 40 pounds of meth for $70,000, the com­plaint says. The deals were al­legedly sup­posed to oc­cur on March 4 and March 5, for 20 pounds at a time.

On Wed­nes­day, the un­der­cover agent al­legedly showed up at a busi­ness in El Cer­rito to do the first deal, but Con­tr­eras-Ro­driguez al­legedly told him that he didn’t want to meet in a pub­lic place. Au­thor­i­ties con­ducted surveil­lance on Cer­vantes, who went to Con­tr­eras-Ro­driguez’s home in Rich­mond, the com­plaint says.

Au­thor­i­ties sub­se­quently ar­rested Con­tr­eras-Ro­driguez and Cer­vantes, and searched the Rich­mond home. They un­cov­ered roughly 20 pounds of meth, which had been con­cealed within a wet/dry vac­uum, the com­plaint says.

Nei­ther de­fen­dant en­tered a plea at their first court ap­pear­ance Thurs­day. They are next due in court March 11 at 1:30 p.m., in San Jose, court records show.

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