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Drug bust makes ‘huge dent in NorCal meth trafficking,’ – 500 lbs. meth seized

on October 22, 2014

A recent drug bust of a Contra Costa county-based gang resulted in the seizure of more than 500 lbs. of methamphetamine, about $700,000 and 22 arrests, state officials announced on Monday. Local police say the bust has made a huge dent in the NorCal meth trade.

Dana Silkowski, the drug unit supervisor for Contra Costa County, said investigations are ongoing, but the operation had an impact.

“The operation was tremendously successful, and made a huge dent in the meth trafficking in Contra Costa county and Northern California,” Silkowski said.

The drugs were smuggled from manufacturers in Mexico and hold a high purity grade, officials said. Drug dealers normally “cut” the drug with other crystalline compounds, like B vitamins, to increase the amount of drugs that can be sold, Silkowski said.

Capt. Mark Gagan of the Richmond Police Department echoed Silkowski’s statement about the drug bust making an impact in the community.

“The price [of the drugs] does go up when big seizures like this happen,” Gagan said.

The Richmond Police Department have had one agent assigned to the Western Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team, or West NET, for a number of years. These agents have a high degree of autonomy and ability to travel freely in California to work the cases, Gagan said.

The arrests and seizures were part of Operation Road Trip, a multi-agency, years-long effort led by California Department of Justice task forces, as well as federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including the Richmond Police Department

Silkowski said the 500 lbs. of methamphetamine were seized over the course of the past year.

“We did not find 500 lbs. sitting in one house,” she said.

A drug trafficking organization (DTO’s) based in SoCal, called the Nitro gang, made “road trips” to Northern California to distribute methamphetamine to the “Urtiz” gang based in Northern California. The gangs and drugs have been linked to the notorious Sinaloa cartel in Mexico, according to a press release from the Office of the Attorney General. The Sinaloa cartel is regarded as one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world.

The operation was the result of two independent investigations, Operation Crystal Lens and Operation Red Reach,  which merged together when it became clear that the individual targets were linked.

The Crystal Lens investigation revealed that the methamphetamine sold by the Urtiz gang was supplied by the Nitro gang, which was under investigation by the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (LA IMPACT).

The three different operations have led to the total seizure of 1,109 lbs. of methamphetamine, $1.82 million in U.S. currency and 67 arrests.

The methamphetamine seized is reported to have a street value of over $40 million.

Police said that cartels have adopted a strategy of incorporating the losses resulting from seizures into their operation, accounting for losses.

“There’s much less of an effort to conceal themselves,” Gagan said. “It seems seizure and arrest is part of their business plan.”


  1. Olivia on October 22, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Great read!

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