MADERA COUNTY – A vehicle stop on Highway 99 has led to one of the largest narcotic busts in recent history, says the Madera County Sheriff’s Office.
A large amount of packaged cocaine, methamphetamine and white powder heroin, with a wholesale value of nearly $700,000, is off the streets, and two Sacramento men are behind bars facing felony drug charges.
Juan Carlos Esparza, 39, and Raydel Estrada Gomez, 29, were arrested after a traffic stop on Highway 41 near Avenue 12.
A California Highway Patrol K9 Officer, working with MADNET (Madera County Narcotics Enforcement Team), pulled over a 2008 Dodge Nitro at around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 12. Both the driver and his passenger reportedly appeared nervous and would not make eye contact with the officer, which led him to ask if they had anything illegal inside the SUV.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the officer was given consent to search the vehicle, and his K9 partner alerted on two cardboard boxes stuffed with 13 kilograms of packaged cocaine, 15 pounds of packaged methamphetamine, and almost $7,000 in US currency.
The K9 also found another 5 kilograms of packaged cocaine and 8 pounds of packaged white powder heroin stashed inside the car’s roof liner.
Both men were taken into custody and booked into Madera County Department of Corrections for felony drug possession and transportation for sales. Bail has been set at $5 million for each suspect.
Sheriff John Anderson calls this stop significant, and says that apart from the amount of narcotics seized, it shows that Madera County remains a major hub and thoroughfare for drug traffickers operating in the state.