RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — Investigators announced the seizure of nearly $5 million worth of chemicals, crystal methamphetamine and marijuana Friday from a large-scale Riverside drug lab.
According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), seven men, who all are originally from Mexico, were arrested on state criminal charges Thursday for their alleged involvement.
A drug lab was discovered inside of a residence in the Mission Grove neighborhood and a marijuana grow at a home nearby, Homeland Security Investigators (HSI) said.
Six of the men, all between the ages of 22 to 51-year-old, are facing possible drug charges. The seventh suspect is being held for questioning in connection with an ongoing murder investigation based out of Sacramento, authorities said.
According to officials, the men were detained after HSI special agents executed search warrants at three Riverside residences.
At one home, located in the 19000 block of White Dove Lane, more than 40 gallons of liquid methamphetamine and about 40 pounds of crystal methamphetamine were recovered by investigators, HSI agents said.
Authorities said the amount of liquid methamphetamine that was seized was enough to produce another 250 pounds of crystal methamphetamine.
Today, crystal methamphetamine sells for as much as $1,000 an ounce in California, according to officials.
HSI agents also seized additional equipment that was similar to a drug manufacturing operation, which included two propane tanks that were hooked up to a makeshift stove meant.
Several freezers were also found in an upstairs bedroom for use in completing the crystallization process, authorities said.
“Methamphetamine is a powerful drug that devastates entire communities,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of HSI Los Angeles. “By keeping this dangerous contraband from reaching our streets, we’ve potentially saved untold lives.”
At the second residence, located in the 17000 block of Twin Lakes Drive, 300 marijuana plants and 230 pounds of processed marijuana were discovered by investigators.
According to authorities, the processed marijuana had an estimated street value of about $1 million. Four fire arms, including a stolen rifle and $70,000 in cash was seized in the operation as well, authorities said.
This investigation is ongoing, however, HSI agents said preliminary evidence indicated the methamphetamine was likely smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico in liquid form.
It was then converted into crystallized form at the lab for distribution, officials stated.
The case has been referred to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office for potential prosecution.