Monday, February 11, 2019

Drug Task Force Record Streak Continues with Loleta Bust

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2019 at 12:49 PM

click to enlarge Heroin from the largest one-time seizure in county history. - HCDTF
  • HCDTF
  • Heroin from the largest one-time seizure in county history.
The Humboldt County Drug Task Force continued its record streak Sunday with the seizure of 12 pounds of heroin stashed in a hidden compartment during a traffic stop in Loleta — believed to be the largest one-stop confiscation in the county’s history.

Two men — Carlos Cota-Alonso and Edgar Barragan-Castano — from Sonora, Mexico, were arrested during the operation that included task force special agents being assisted by a narcotic detection K9 and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.

Agents had previously obtained a search warrant for the vehicle after establishing “probable cause to believe that both subjects were distributing multiple pounds of heroin in Humboldt County.”

Also recovered was $6,000 in cash that is “be held pending asset forfeiture proceedings."

This record-breaking seizure comes on the heels of record-breaking year for the task force. Over the course of 2018, the multi-agency investigative team recovered nearly 35 pounds of the drug — more than double the volume confiscated in the previous six years combined.

In the Jan. 17 Journal article “Out of the Shadows,” which looked at the causes behind the surge, Sgt. Jesse Taylor attributed the increase to a “perfect storm” of circumstances, including an upsurge in heroin use tied to prescription painkillers and changes in sentencing laws.

"Unfortunately, I think it's going to be a trend. ... I don't see this issue going away," Taylor said.

And, he said, the drug task force, which focuses its efforts on meth and heroin trafficking, has quite simply gotten better at its mission.

Read the full drug task force release below:

On February 10th, 2019, at approximately 4:30 p.m., Special Agents with the Humboldt County Drug Task Force, with the assistance of narcotic detection K9 with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in the 1000 block of Hookton Road, Loleta. Agents had previously received information, and obtained a search warrant, for a vehicle being driven by Adrian Carlos Cota-Alonso and Edgar Barragan-Castano (both from Sonora, Mexico). Agents established probable cause to believe that both subjects were distributing multiple pounds of heroin in Humboldt County.

During the traffic stop, both subjects were detained without incident. Agents served the search warrant and located a false compartment in the rear passenger seat. Agents opened this compartment and located approximately 12 pounds of suspected heroin packaged for sales. Agents also seized over $6,000 in US currency that is believed to be profits of narcotics sales. This currency will be held pending asset forfeiture proceedings.

Cota-Alonso and Barragan-Castano were subsequently transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where they were booked for possession and transportation of controlled substances for the purpose of sales. Pursuant to PC 1275, agents were granted bail enhancements for both arrestees and their bail was set at $100,000 each.

This is believed to be the largest one-time seizure of heroin in Humboldt County history.

Anyone with information related to this investigation or other narcotics related crimes are encouraged to call the Humboldt County Drug Task Force at 707-444-8095 or the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 707-268-2539.

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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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