The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California announced on Jan. 23 that a routine traffic stop in Pixley in early January led to the discovery of more than 300 pounds of methamphetamine and the dismantling of a major narcotics trafficking ring. A 20-year-old man and a 24-year-old man are being held in connection with the seized drugs. They have been charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics and could be sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted. Bail for both men has been set at $3 million.
The traffic stop took a more serious turn when a Tulare County Sheriff’s Office deputy peered through the car’s rear window and noticed white powder. The deputy then called for backup, and the ensuing investigation led to a search of the vehicle and two buildings in rural Tulare County. These searches allegedly yielded about 100 pounds of methamphetamine, 200 pounds of liquid methamphetamine and approximately 300 fentanyl pills.
U.S. attorneys and law enforcement officials say the discovery was significant because it reveals that drug cartels based in Mexico are changing the way they smuggle drugs into the United States. To avoid detection when entering the country, narcotics gangs now seem to be shipping liquid drugs that are processed into the finished product at manufacturing facilities north of the border. A TCSO representative said in a press conference that the investigation into the men’s alleged activities is continuing and further arrests are possible.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys may study the reasons for the initial traffic stop carefully when presented with facts similar to these. This is because all of the evidence found during or subsequent to a traffic stop might be considered tainted if the vehicle was pulled over without sufficient probable cause. When judges are not convinced that a traffic stop was justified, they may decide to exclude any evidence discovered and dismiss drug trafficking charges.