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Record drug seizure netted $5.7 million in meth, heroin

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Aida Ahmed/Las Vegas Sun

Drugs seized during the bust are displayed on Thursday.

Updated Thursday, July 14, 2011 | 4:45 p.m.

Drug arrests

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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.

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  1. If you are trying to be PC about this:

    "Mexican nationals in the country illegally" = Criminals.

    Good job on busting this group. Hopefully you will keep doing the same thing. We don't need this in the Valley yet we all know you will never stop it.

    Bad thing is we are now going to support" 10 Mexican nationals in the country illegally in our jails for many years.

  2. 'They just came here for the jobs'

  3. "Metro Police Capt. Richard Collins said he wants local drug dealers to realize that authorities are looking for them."

    I gotta a funny feeling they already knew that the law was looking for them otherwise they would have signs posted on their cars and houses. As for the "record" drug seizure, I would like to know in what amount and/or time frame are we referring to?

    Though I disagree with the way the drug war is handled, the law is the law and I must respect these guys for doing a great job at performing their duties.

  4. Nice to know the Feds are getting the dangerous stuff off the street and leaving the medicinal marijuana community alone for a change.

  5. Is this what it takes to find an illegal alien? I am sure this is a pittance compared to what is out there in terms of drugs, and illegals, but bravo for taking some down.