Aida Ahmed/Las Vegas Sun
Published Thursday, July 14, 2011 | 11:47 a.m.
Updated Thursday, July 14, 2011 | 4:45 p.m.
Officials cracked a drug ring in Las Vegas that netted methamphetamines and heroin with an estimated street value of $5.7 million.
DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Paul A. Rozario said during a news conference Thursday that 11 arrests -- including 10 people who were in the country illegally -- were made in connection with the bust, capping an investigation that started in January. He called the seizure the largest meth bust ever in Nevada.
Officials served five search warrants July 12 and July 13 at five locations in the valley: three in northeast Las Vegas, one in the southwest valley and one in Henderson.
Rozario said officials seized 208 pounds of meth, 4.3 pounds of heroin, $280,000 in cash, nine vehicles, five handguns (including one with a silencer) and one shotgun.
Among the 11 arrested in the bust were Jorge Loza, 26, Armando Lara, 37, Sergio Vieyra-Medrano, 37, Oscar Cavadas, 26, Felix Roman, 27, Mayra Torres, 29, Salvador Garibo, 27, Cecilia Salgado, 55 and Alejandro Gomez, 31. Rozario identified Cavadas as the alleged ringleader. A juvenile was also arrested.
They were booked on multiple counts of trafficking in narcotics.
Officials said the 11 are believed to be members of a Mexican drug cartel, but didn't specify which cartel.
It's unclear how long the illegal immigrants have been in the United States or how they entered the country.
"This organization is believed to be responsible for bringing in huge amounts of meth and drugs into the Las Vegas Valley every month," Rozario said.
He estimated that 75 percent of the drugs were consumed in the Las Vegas Valley, as opposed to being brought elsewhere.
Police don't believe the guns had been used in violent crimes in the Las Vegas area, but that remains under investigation.
The record seizure of drugs was made by the Southern Nevada High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.
The task force is made up of officers from across the region, including Metro, Henderson, North Las Vegas and Boulder City police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Nevada Highway Patrol.
Metro Police Capt. Richard Collins said he wants local drug dealers to realize that authorities are looking for them.
"Our task forces, which are sponsored by HITDA, are out there every day. If you persist, we’ll be more than happy to arrest you, take your property, your products and anything associated with the drug trade and put you in prison."
Sun reporter Nikki Villoria contributed to this story.