SANTA CLARA, Calif. – A California warehouse believed by investigators to house an active methamphetamine conversion site was raided earlier this month after a single-vehicle accident 1,100 miles away pointed them in the right direction.
According to court documents, the Aug. 3 raid on the Santa Clara warehouse by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration netted “processed and unprocessed” methamphetamine as well as the makings of a laboratory intended to convert the stimulant from liquid to crystal form, The Mercury News reported.
To date, only one person, Marco Antonio Manriquez, has been charged in connection with the operation. He was charged with one count of distribution of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine and aiding and abetting the same crime, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Meanwhile, the operation’s alleged ringleader, referred to in court filings as “Co-Conspirator One,” was also arrested but has not been identified publicly, the newspaper reported.
The investigation began July 1 in Rawlings, Wyoming, when a car transporting 40 pounds of methamphetamine crashed on Interstate 80, the criminal complaint filed at the time stated.
According to The Mercury News, one of the vehicle’s two occupants “became a confidential source whose name has been left out of public court filings.”
The informant told investigators that the drugs had been retrieved from the Santa Clara warehouse, which was staffed with an in-house “cook” in charge of crystallizing shipments of liquid methamphetamine that had been smuggled to the Bay Area and repackaging them for nationwide distribution, the newspaper reported.
According to the Times, the informant told investigators the scheme had been in place for several years.
On Aug. 2, DEA agents surveilling the warehouse observed the suspected ringleader and Manriquez leave the premises with a “white bag with honey bee emblems” and drive in a red Nissan Altima to Milpitas, where they handed the bag to the driver of a Chevrolet Equinox, The Mercury News reported.
According to the complaint, the California Highway Patrol, acting on a DEA tip, pulled over the Equinox a short while later in Benicia and found 24 pounds of methamphetamine inside the bag, the newspaper reported.
Manriquez is slated to appear in court Monday. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and $1 million in fines, according to the Times.