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Record amount of meth seized in Mesa County August 27, 2005 - gjsentinel.com
Local and federal authorities Friday announced the largest methamphetamine bust in Mesa County history, with drug task force officers arresting a man who allegedly was transporting 22 pounds of meth through western Colorado.
Rafael Alvarez-Ibarra of Los Angeles was arrested Thursday after an officer with the Drug Enforcement Administration Western Colorado Drug Task Force stopped the Chrysler Town and Country van he was driving east on Interstate 70 in Mesa County, according to the Task Force.
Alvarez-Ibarra gave the officer permission to search the van, and a drug dog alerted the officer to the drugs. Officers searched the van and found 20 individually wrapped packages of meth stashed in a compartment between the hood and dashboard of the van, the Task Force said.
Officers said the meth consisted of more than 1 million dosage units and was valued at more than $430,000.
"We cannot afford to allow this highly destructive drug to continue to infiltrate and destroy the basic premise of a healthy society," Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said in a prepared statement. "We are thrilled that approximately 22 pounds of methamphetamine will not be delivered into the hands of these criminals who have no consideration for the destructive impact this drug has on our community."
Alvarez-Ibarra was taken into federal custody and could face a charge of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, which carries a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison. He will make his first court appearance Monday at the federal courthouse in Grand Junction.
DEA Special Agent Karen Flowers said the meth was likely not destined for the Grand Valley, but somewhere further east.
"Most of our investigations are finding that the high quality methamphetamine is being manufactured in Mexico and being smuggled into the United States, and major interstates facilitate that action, with I-70 being one of those corridors," she said.
Authorities declined to release Alvarez-Ibarra's mug shot or any other details about the drug bust.