Authorities said they seized over 5,000 pounds of methamphetamine from a box truck that crossed the border into the U.S. from Mexico in what they called one of the largest busts of the drug in San Diego County.
Four men were arrested in connection with the haul, which was contained in a 20-foot box truck that crossed the border Thursday at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Law enforcement agents followed the truck to National City, about 17 miles north of the border, where four men began unloading dozens of cardboard boxes from the rig and into a Dodge van, authorities said. The boxes held about 148 bundles containing the methamphetamine, they said.
Arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute the drug were Rafael Alzua, 37; Mario Contreras, 41; Ethgar Velazquez, 44; and Galdrino Contreras, 41, all from Tijuana, Mexico, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Attorneys for the men did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
If convicted, they could face up to life in prison and a $10 million fine.
The U.S. attorney's office in a news release called the seizure “record-breaking” and “one of the largest methamphetamine seizures in San Diego County.”
“This monumental seizure represents another win against drug cartels that fuel addiction in the United States,” Shelly S. Howe, DEA special agent in charge, said in the statement.
In May, federal authorities said they seized 165 pounds of meth, 1,762 pounds of cocaine and 3 1/2 pounds of heroin after discovering a drug-smuggling tunnel the length of six football fields running from Tijuana to San Diego.
The DEA seized 2,200 pounds of methamphetamine in Perris, California, in 2020 in what at the time was considered its largest domestic meth bust.