Authorities seized nearly 100 pounds of crystal methamphetamine from an Atwater home less than 500 feet from an elementary school, officials reported Thursday. A 4-year-old child was among the four people at the home.
“This is a significant seizure for any law enforcement agency,” said Sgt. Rodney Court, who works with the Merced Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team, known as MAGNET. “Anytime you get nearly 100 pounds (of narcotics), that’s significant. That requires a lot of good cop work.”
The investigation started about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday when a California Highway Patrol officer stopped a car on Highway 140 and Highway 165 near Stevinson, Court said.
The CHP officer found about 6 ounces of meth in the car and arrested the driver, Elvis Espino Rodriguez, 34, of San Jose. Espino Rodriguez, who investigators said goes by several aliases and had a fake ID, was booked into the Merced County Jail on various offenses including manufacturing methamphetamine, transporting it, providing false identification and possession of a controlled substance for sale.
The arrest led investigators to the home at 2521 Boulder Drive in Atwater, Court said. Investigators served a search warrant about 10:30 p.m. and found materials used in the processing of crystal meth, Court said.
Investigators found several jugs of meth in the home and more in a car.
In total, 76 pounds of finished crystal meth were seized in addition to between 20 and 25 pounds of meth being processed, Court said.
Because of the amount of drugs at the home, the state Department of Justice’s Fresno Methamphetamine Task Force assisted in gathering and processing the evidence.
Three adults – a man and two women – who were at the home were not arrested but remain suspects, Court said. Further information about the child was not released.
Espino Rodriguez was held at John Latorraca Correctional Center with bond set at $535,500.
A hazardous-materials team also went to the home, near Bellevue Elementary School.
“What we found became a hazard material situation,” Court said.
Acting Atwater Police Chief Samuel Joseph said the material posed no danger to the school or students.
Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477