Modesto traffic stop yields 10,000 pills of meth ingredient

Illegal use of a cell-phone while driving Monday morning in south Modesto led police to discover more than 10,000 pills of the main ingredient used to make methamphetamine, a department spokesman announced Tuesday.

Modesto police found several plastic grocery bags filled with pseudoephedrine pills inside a 1992 Ford Bronco. The pills were encased in several hundred prescription blister packs, said police Sgt. Rick Armendariz.

About 10:15 a.m. Monday, a patrol officer spotted Anastacio Maldonado, 49, of South Gate near Los Angeles, talking on a cell phone while driving the Ford Bronco near Hatch and Crows Landing roads.

The officer pulled the vehicle over. Armendariz said Maldonado told the officer he had a Vicodin pill without a prescription. The officer arrested Maldonado without incident.

The vehicle’s passenger, a 35-year-old Los Angeles man, also was detained but later released without charges. Maldonado was taken to police headquarters for further questioning.

Police searched the Ford Bronco and found the grocery bags with the pills. The department’s narcotic enforcement team was called to assist in the investigation.

The narcotic investigators were trying determine where the pills came from and where were they heading. Pseudoephedrine is the primary ingredient used to manufacture meth.

“We don’t know whether he was coming up here to make a delivery; the investigators are following up on that,” Armendariz said.

He said the seized pills have a total estimated street value of more than $7,800. No weapons were found in the vehicle.

Maldonado was arrested on suspicion of possession of precursors for meth with the intent to manufacture, possession of a controlled substance and being under the influence of a controlled substance.