State

Meth bust uncovers Turlock supply link

On Thursday, authorities targeted a Mexico-based drug trafficking operation that allegedly smuggled large quantities of methamphetamine across the border and sent shipments to West Coast distribution centers, including one in Turlock.

Ten people were arrested after an eight-month federal investigation into the group. One of the 31 suspects named in a criminal indictment against the Don Chuy drug trafficking organization is 26-year-old Turlock resident Alejandro Perez Manzo.

The group takes it name from suspected trafficking ringleader Jesus Marquez-Marquez, who is known as "Don Chuy," according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

During the investigation, federal, state and local law enforcement officials seized about 90 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of more than $5 million.

The confiscated meth was among a series of large seizures that included about 24 pounds of meth discovered in a big-rig on Interstate 5 in Kern County on Oct. 26.

"The organization targeted today is believed to be responsible for bringing more than 200 pounds of meth into Southern California every month — enough meth to supply thousands of people with this highly addictive and dangerous drug," said Timothy Landrum, DEA special agent in charge in Los Angeles.

Manzo, also known as "Javier," allegedly ran the organization's distribution from Fresno to Turlock, according to the DEA.

The federal officials say the trafficking organization obtained bulk quantities of methamphetamine in Mexico and arranged for the transportation of the drugs into the United States.

Authorities said the drugs were stored in stash houses in Tijuana before the shipments were moved north.

The meth was smuggled primarily in hidden compartments and fake car batteries in vehicles driven through the border. The meth was then distributed in wholesale quantities through groups based in Southern California's Inland Empire, the Central Valley and Washington state.

Marquez-Marquez, the lead defendant in the criminal complaint, is still wanted by authorities and is believed to be living in the Mexican state of Michoacán. Others named in the complaint also are wanted by authorities.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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