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Sirens & Gavels

Calif. meth-ring bust has Washington ties

By The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Federal authorities said 31 people faced drug charges in a crackdown Thursday targeting a large-scale ring that funneled methamphetamine from Mexico to California and Washington using fake vehicle batteries.

The suspected ringleader, Jesus Marquez-Marquez, is believed to be in the Mexican state of Michoacan and has not yet been arrested, authorities said. Marquez-Marquez, also known as Don Chuy, allegedly ran the drug ring that stored the drug in Tijuana before it was moved across the U.S.-Mexico border via hidden compartments and bogus car batteries.

Marquez-Marquez is accused in a federal complaint of having a number of distribution cells in California's Central Valley, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and the state of Washington.

The ring is believed to have brought more than 200 pounds of meth into Southern California every month.

About 90 pounds of meth worth more than $5 million was seized Thursday as well as eight kilograms of cocaine.

Ten people were arrested, and others were being sought.

Those from Washington include David "Prieto" Silva Benavides, 28, of Othello, who is accused of leading a Don Chuy distribution cell in Washington; Margarito Magaro of Tacoma, who allegedly worked with the Washington-based distribution cell; Jose Luis Mata-Garcia, who is in his late 30s, of Othello; and Iliana Farias, 30, who allegedly was involved in the Washington-based distribution cell.

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