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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

ISP officer say Idaho major stop for meth

Associated Press

EMMETT, Idaho – Idaho has become a warehouse state for methamphetamine trafficking, according to Captain Don Van Cleave of the Idaho State Police.

“Almost 90 percent of the meth we’re dealing with is imported into this state by drug cartels out of Mexico,” Van Cleave said Thursday at a press conference in Emmett. “Not all of the meth is destined for Idaho, it will go to different areas. We’re working hard to deal with it, but we are not preventing it.”

Authorities uncovered a drug trafficking ring in Gem County after police responded to the murder of Jose Luis Vazquez, 44, in September last year. Police say the drug came from Northern Mexico and was brought to Idaho through California and Oregon.

A grand jury indicted Ivan Mendoza-Rico in connection with the shooting. Federal prosecutors say Mendoza-Rico shot Vazquez with a 9 mm pistol so he could control the drug ring the two were planning.

Sixteen other people, four of whom were in the country illegally, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Boise on a number of drug charges. Almost all are suspected of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and other drug-related crimes.

Authorities said they’re not sure how much meth was pumped into the United States through this operation, but estimated drug cartels can handle up to 200 pounds a month.

The U.S. District Attorney’s Office became involved when the investigation pointed to drugs crossing the Mexican border into the United States.

Officials suspect the drug ring had been operating below the radar of law enforcement for about a decade, and authorities expect more drug traffickers to come to rural Idaho.

“It should be obvious rural Idaho is not immune to this,” U.S. Attorney Kim Lindquist said. “As long as that willingness exists, the (trafficking) will occur. The cops are doing what they can but this is a larger social issue we need to grapple with.”