Madera County Sheriff Pogue announces largest drug seizure in county history

Officials called this 'Operation Trifecta'. It led to the arrest of 28 people, 13 of which lived in Madera County.

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Thursday, November 3, 2022
Madera Co. Sheriff announces largest drug seizure in county history
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The Madera County Sheriff's Office announced the largest drug seizure in county history Wednesday, following to a months-long operation.

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Madera County Sheriff's Office announced the largest drug seizure in county history Wednesday, following to a months-long operation.

Sheriff Tyson Pogue said the months-long investigation was linked to the Mexican cartel.

Officials called this 'Operation Trifecta'. It led to the arrest of 28 people, 13 of which lived in Madera County.

Officials say through months of investigation, they were able to intercept conversations between people in the organization and ultimately track down those involved.

"This is a monumental day for public safety in Madera County," said Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue.

Sheriff Pogue made the announcement in a room with a table full of seized drugs and money.

Sheriff Pogue says "Operation Trifecta" started in July with the Madera Narcotics Enforcement Team, the High-Intensity Investigation Team and the Fresno Drug Enforcement Administration as they launched an investigation into Ernesto Beltran.

"Beltran has a long history of being a narcotics dealer and distributor. Our first contact with him was in 2015 when we seized seven pounds of meth out of his vehicle, so we've been looking at him for a while now," Sheriff Pogue said.

Detectives say Beltran was part of a large-scale Mexico-based drug trafficking organization alongside his wife, daughter and close family friend.

Investigators were able to identify a large group that was involved with the importation, transportation, manufacturing and distribution of meth, heroin and fentanyl.

A total of 28 arrests were made, and Madera County District Attorney Sally Moreno says they've all been charged and remain in custody.

"This has been a great operation that has allowed us to tear this organization apart from its roots with arrests and events ranging from Tulare up to Stockton," Moreno said.

In total, Sheriff Pogue says Operation Trifecta shut down four meth labs: one in Madera County, one in Fresno County and two in Tulare County.

Investigators also seized two kilograms of Fentanyl, four kilograms of heroine, 1,305 pounds of meth and eight firearms.

Sheriff Pogue says he hopes this sends a clear message to the criminals.

"They're gambling with the lives of our children, our family members and our neighbors," Sheriff Pogue said. "And I hope that any other predatory drug dealer sees this and decides that they'd be better off operating in another area."

Moreno said the suspects are currently being held on $500,000-$10 million bail.

If convicted, some of the defendants could be eligible for felony probation, but DA Moreno says she's optimistic that won't happen based on the size of the operation. On the other hand, some of these suspects could face 35 years in state prison or 20 years in the Madera County Jail.