Homeland Security special agents may engage in drug busts where there may be a conspiracy to bring drugs in from another country. That is what purportedly happened in Riverside, California on Sept. 26. Homeland Security agents announced that they had executed search warrants on three homes and had found more than $5 million of illicit drugs and chemicals. Agents said that this included over 40 gallons of liquid meth in one home and evidence of a large scale drug manufacture operation.
Six men were arrested on federal drug charges involving methamphetamine. In addition to the liquid meth, the agents allegedly found about 40 pounds of finished crystal meth in one of the properties. There was also equipment for drug manufacture in the home, including propane tanks configured into a stove to cook the drug, and freezers to crystallize the final product.
Drug agents speculated that the drug was smuggled into the country from Mexico in liquid form and then cooked and crystallized in Riverside. In another residence searched, a marijuana operation was allegedly found, along with 300 growing marijuana plants and 230 pounds of pot ready to market. The estimated street value is asserted by investigators to be $1 million.
There are many unanswered questions at this early point in the case. First, even if there was a conspiratorial drug operation, defense counsel has to distinguish the major players from the minor ones. A minor player not aware of the full scope of the operation is legally entitled to a less severe sentence.
Furthermore, even if there was an illegal operation, one or more defendants may have been bystanders or an innocent resident. As always, it's important for California counsel to study and evaluate the propriety of police procedures. There are constitutional limitations that must be followed in making a bust for drugs and drug manufacture. For example, although they purportedly obtained search warrants, counsel must validate the reasons stated to the issuing authority for the warrants to determine whether probable cause did in fact exist, and whether there were any other potential fatal infirmities in the process.
Source: abc7.com, "Riverside drug bust nets $5M in meth, marijuana; 7 arrested", , Sept. 26, 2014