Drug bust nets cash, guns " 7 are arrested
By Dave Moller
Senior Staff Writer
A probation search may have uncovered a major drug ring in Nevada County with possible ties to a Mexican methamphetamine operation.
Seven people were arrested Thursday at a home on the 10000 block of Bitney Springs Road on suspicion of a variety of drug charges and warrants, according to Sheriff Keith Royal.
“We found out this was a major distribution link to Nevada County and linked to a known large drug ring, most likely from a Mexican superlab,” said Royal, adding that the Sheriff’s Office had conferred with federal Drug Enforcement Administration officials about the case.
Officers confiscated two pounds of methamphetamine, one-quarter pound of cocaine, one pound of processed marijuana kef, $48,000 in cash, two rifles, a pump shotgun, ammunition and scales ostensibly for weighing drugs, according to Sgt. Bill Smethers of the Narcotics Task Force.
Working on information of a possible large cache of drugs and cash, task force officers and deputies raided the Bitney Springs Road residence of Eric M. Southard, 49, about 3 p.m.
He was arrested at the scene on suspicion of various drug possession and sales charges and a probation violation stemming from an August 2006 arrest for marijuana cultivation, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
Charges against Southard include suspicion of being in possession of a loaded firearm while committing a felony. His bail was set at $500,000, and he was still incarcerated late Friday.
Also arrested at the home were Southard’s girlfriend, Camie Young, 38, of Nevada City, on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine, and a friend, Gerald Faunce, 50, of Rough and Ready, on a local misdemeanor warrant and suspicion of possessing drugs.
Young was still incarcerated late Friday on a $10,000 bail, and Faunce had been released on a $5,000 bail.
Shortly after their arrests, officers learned that cash and drugs might be buried on the property, Smethers said. Following trails, officers allegedly unearthed $18,000, one pound of methamphetamine, the cocaine and the kef. Another $16,000 was found in a pump house.
During the search, Jesse Smith-Gardner, 37, of Auburn, and Glen Taylor, 57, of Penn Valley, drove onto the property, Royal said.
Smith-Gardner was arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs without a prescription, and driving while suspended or revoked. He remained in jail late Friday on a $5,000 bond.
Taylor was arrested on a local felony warrant for allegedly violating his probation and remains in jail with no bail.
Just after Smith-Gardner and Taylor were arrested, two more men drove onto the property, spotted the officers and allegedly tried to flee, Smethers said.
Officers caught and arrested Alfonso Corrales, 24, of Earlimart, and Hilario Carranza, age and hometown unknown. Federal drug enforcement officials think Corrales and Carranza may have major drug operation ties to Mexico, Royal said.
Officers allegedly discovered $12,000 hidden in a sidewall of Corrales’ and Carranza’s vehicle and a pound of methamphetamine underneath a speaker, Smethers said. Smethers said the speaker stood out to him because it had screws in it that were different than normal.
Corrales was jailed on charges of possessing drugs for sale, transporting drugs and possession of methamphetamine. He remained in custody late Friday on a $500,000 bail.
Carranza complained of a medical problem after his arrest and will be in custody in an undisclosed location until he can be jailed, Royal said.
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