On Tuesday, they found six pounds of meth in a storage facility, and $8,000 in a bank account used by the accused ringleader. And even though deputies say the suspect made thousands in drug sales, he was collecting federal and state public assistance.
A circular dent in the door of this town home marks the spot where Madera County sheriff's deputies used a battering ram to force their way inside. The home is just a few yards from a children's playground, but deputies say it was home base for a large drug trafficking operation. And children were among the few witnesses to the bust last Friday. Their parents allowed them to talk to Action News, but we're protecting their identities.
"Someone looked out the window from upstairs and I didn't see who it was," said a 10-year-old neighbor. "But I just saw the cops trying to make a hole through the door to open the door because they didn't want to open it."
Investigators arrested Ricardo Diaz and his wife inside the home -- two of the ten arrests they made in Madera County. In all, they served 13 warrants and found ten pounds of meth -- mostly at Diaz's home and at a storage facility. But investigators say this meth was not made in Madera County.
"They're not making it here, at least in Madera County, like they were 7-8 years ago," said Sheriff John Anderson. "It's all being imported."
In fact, investigators say they've been following the drugs all the way up from Mexico. And they blame the drug cartel known as the most violent in Mexico.
"They have a direct link to La Familia, which is a criminal organization in Mexico," said Sheriff Anderson. "They're very violent involving all kinds of crimes -- especially drugs."
Federal investigators have followed members of La Familia for years -- even catching them on surveillance video smuggling meth across the border. But no number of arrests has been able to stop the flow of drugs.
Sheriff Anderson says he's worried this could be the last drug bust that gets beneath the surface of the drug trade. The state is ending most of its drug task forces in January after the department of justice lost $71 million in funding.