Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the seizure of more than 200 pounds of cocaine worth $1.2 million by the Department of Justice-led Merced High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force and the Department of Homeland Security in Merced County.
"We cannot allow the I-5 corridor to serve as a conduit for transnational gangs trafficking drugs, guns and human beings into California communities," says Attorney General Harris, "Department of Justice Special Agents up and down this state are essential in the fight to disrupt and dismantle these transnational drug trafficking operations."
On July 6, the Department of Justice-led Merced HIDTA Task Force was called in to assist the Department of Homeland Security after a traffic stop in the area of Interstate 5 and Highway 165 in Merced County. Before towing the individual's vehicle, Department of Justice Special Agents discovered a hidden compartment in the floorboard of the individual's vehicle.
The vehicle was towed to the California Highway Patrol Office in Los Banos. One hidden compartment contained 31 kilos of cocaine, and upon further inspection, agents discovered a second hidden compartment in the floorboards of the vehicle with 52 additional kilos of cocaine. The total, 83 kilos, is the equivalent of 206.5 pounds and is estimated to be worth $1.2 million.
The Merced HIDTA Task Force is one of 51 California Department of Justice led task forces that coordinate the response to our State's growing gang and drug trafficking problems. Department of Justice leadership in these task forces has been eliminated by this year's budget.
In June, the Attorney General announced the arrest of 101 leaders and members of two transnational gangs operating violent criminal enterprises in the Central Valley counties of Merced and Madera, including the cities of Madera, Los Banos, Livingston, Merced, Atwater and Dos Palos.