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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Seizure of $1.2 Million of Cocaine on Interstate 5 in Merced County

Friday, July 15, 2011
Contact: (415) 703-5837

MERCED --- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the seizure of more than 200 pounds of cocaine worth $1.2 million by the Department of Justice-led Merced High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force and the Department of Homeland Security in Merced County.

“We cannot allow the I-5 corridor to serve as a conduit for transnational gangs trafficking drugs, guns and human beings into California communities,” Attorney General Harris said, “Department of Justice Special Agents up and down this state are essential in the fight to disrupt and dismantle these transnational drug trafficking operations.”

On July 6, the Department of Justice-led Merced HIDTA Task Force was called in to assist the Department of Homeland Security after a traffic stop in the area of Interstate 5 and Highway 165 in Merced County. Before towing the individual’s vehicle, Department of Justice Special Agents discovered a hidden compartment in the floorboard of the individual’s vehicle.

The vehicle was towed to the California Highway Patrol Office in Los Banos. One hidden compartment contained 31 kilos of cocaine, and upon further inspection, agents discovered a second hidden compartment in the floorboards of the vehicle with 52 additional kilos of cocaine. The total, 83 kilos, is the equivalent of 206.5 pounds and is estimated to be worth $1.2 million.

The Merced HIDTA Task Force is one of 51 California Department of Justice led task forces that coordinate the response to our State’s growing gang and drug trafficking problems. Department of Justice leadership in these task forces has been eliminated by this year’s budget.

Attached are two photos, one showing the hidden compartment in the vehicle and another showing the cocaine that was found.

Also attached is a list of the 51 task forces operated by the Department of Justice.

In June, the Attorney General announced the arrest of 101 leaders and members of two transnational gangs operating violent criminal enterprises in the Central Valley counties of Merced and Madera, including the cities of Madera, Los Banos, Livingston, Merced, Atwater and Dos Palos. http://oag.ca.gov/news/press_release?id=2512&

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