3-month-long drug sting ends with flash-bang
A Grass Valley man who pulled over in a quiet spot to check phone messages got a front-row seat to a take-down of two suspected meth dealers.
The show came complete with two SWAT teams in “full combat gear” and an explosion courtesy of a “flash-bang” device that blew the windows out of the suspect’s minivan.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Tim Schad, who had just gotten a cup of coffee and pulled into the parking lot on Plaza Drive at about 10 a.m. Wednesday to make some calls and do some Web research.
“I looked up, and all of a sudden, I see a black minivan coming by with the sliding doors open and two guys in full SWAT gear,” Schad said. “Then, boom! All hell broke loose.”
The explosion was a incendiary distraction device that was detonated because the suspects appeared to be trying to reverse out of the parking lot, said Nevada County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bill Smethers.
Schad happened to witness the culmination of a three-month-long investigation by the Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force, with an undercover officer making several controlled buys of methamphetamine from one of the suspects, Smethers said.
“We arranged to buy a half-pound of meth from this individual for $9,600,” he said.
The sale was set for the shopping center in the 900 block of Plaza Drive, and members of the Grass Valley Police Department SWAT team, the county’s Special Enforcement Detail Team and agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement fugitive task force were waiting.
“As soon as the (undercover) officer saw the drugs, we moved in,” Smethers said.
Officers searched the suspects’ minivan and found a half-pound of meth wrapped in a diaper, he said. They also searched the residence of the two men, in the 300 block of Glenwood Drive. There, investigators allegedly found a quarter-ounce of crystal meth and evidence the men were using several different names.
Jorge Alejandro Garibay-Martinez, 27, and Moises Lazaro-Garcia, 24, both of Grass Valley, were arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for sale, transportation of a controlled substance for sale, and criminal conspiracy. Both men were illegal immigrants and were being held for immigration authorities, Smethers said.
“We probably will seek federal charges against both men due to the amount of meth,” he added.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail email@example.com or call (530) 477-4229.
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