A Riverside County Sheriff’s narcotics sting operation went awry last week, resulting in a suspected drug dealer escaping with 60 pounds of methamphetamine. The stolen meth is estimated to be worth between $150,000 and $210,000.
The sheriff’s office had arranged an undercover operation to identify and apprehend drug traffickers. Deputies posed as wholesale drug sellers and met with the suspect, who sought to purchase 27 kilos of methamphetamine. However, after the transaction, the suspect managed to elude deputies from the Gang Task Force when officers attempted a vehicle stop. The high-speed chase was eventually abandoned due to concerns for public safety.
Drug Dealer Steals 60 Pounds Of Meth From Cops During Failed Sting https://t.co/PWvvo6zYo3
— ConservativeLibrarian (@ConserLibrarian) April 24, 2023
The methamphetamine trade has long plagued Southern California. The Riverside and San Bernardino County area was once known as the “methamphetamine capital of the United States.” Mexican drug-trafficking organizations operated many meth labs in these counties. They have since been forced out due to increased law enforcement pressure. However, Riverside has remained a significant drug smuggling and distribution center due to its location near the southern border, Los Angeles and San Diego.
In 2022 alone, Riverside County seized more than six million fentanyl pills, 12,000 pounds of methamphetamine, 242 pounds of heroin, 3,000 pounds of cocaine, and 260,000 pounds of marijuana. In addition, the Border Patrol has already confiscated 75,600 pounds of meth across the northern and southwest borders and coastal ports of entry in the first six months of fiscal year 2023. According to CBP data, a staggering 41,300 pounds were seized by Border Patrol’s San Diego field office alone.
The recently failed sting operation raises concerns about the effectiveness of law enforcement’s tactics to combat drug trafficking. Michael Lujan, a retired captain with the Riverside Sheriff’s Department, questioned the approach taken during this operation, stating, “Why would you let someone get in their vehicle, I don’t know.” He further elaborated on the “operational package” that should have been prepared to avoid such a mishap, including outlining potential hazards, escape routes and ensuring sufficient background and surveillance plans.
While the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has acknowledged the failed sting and admitted to the loss of the methamphetamine, they have not provided details on what went wrong or how the suspect managed to escape with the drugs. They have stated that the investigation is ongoing but have not been forthcoming with further comments.