Meth bust sparks political attack on California laws by US attorney

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Nearly 50 pounds of methamphetamine along with heroin and other drugs and five weapons were seized and seven people arrested in a major drug operation in Fresno.

At a joint news conference with Federal authorities, Fresno County Sheriff Margeret Mims said the initial key to breaking up the operation, was a routine traffic stop, "It was all because of an expired registration."

Inside the car, a pound of meth and other drugs were found. The suspect, David Stuard of Fresno was arrested.

According to the Sheriff, Stuard has been arrested and convicted three times for drug dealing and released on parole.

That prompted U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott to attack California's drug laws, "Something is rotten in Denmark, with the California Criminal justice system. It has gone too far in decriminalizing crime in this state."

Action News Legal Analyst Tony Capozzi, a former Federal Prosecutor, disagrees. He says California drug laws are not lax.

"There is not a lot of difference between the state and federal penalties when it comes to drug offenses."

The investigation of Stuard led to another 45 pounds of meth and the arrests of six others. The alleged ringleaders, Victor Garcia and Luis Torres are said to be in the country illegally.

That fact led U.S. Attorney Scott to attack California's sanctuary state law, "It is not lost on me that as we speak here right now, the Department of Justice lawsuit against the state of California over the sanctuary state law is being heard in Federal Court in Sacramento. This is a problem."

But on questioning, Scott acknowledged the sanctuary state law was not an issue in this case.

Capozzi notes the law, which limits the contact local law enforcement has with immigration agents, does not prevent federal involvement in criminal investigations.

"(The law) does not stop the Sheriff from contacting the FBI for any offenses that might have taken place."

In fact, this bust relied on help from federal law enforcement agencies, the FBI and the DEA along with a host of Valley agencies.

The bottom line is, a lot of meth and other drugs are off the street, and seven people are in custody, facing Federal charges.

Local and federal investigators are working to find the source of the drugs.
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