Deputies seized nearly 100 pounds of methamphetamine worth more than $2 million from two homes in Portland and Gresham that the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said Thursday marks the largest drug haul in the agency's history.
Three people face drug and gun allegations after investigators served search warrants about 6 p.m. Wednesday at a house in the 4000 block of Southeast 104th Avenue in Portland and an apartment in the 1700 block of Southeast Orient Drive in Gresham.
Investigators also seized almost 2 pounds of heroin, pills, a handgun and nearly $30,000 in cash. The amount of drugs recovered likely puts the bust on the list of the top 10 drug seizures statewide by a police agency, said Lt. Chad Gaidos, a sheriff's office spokesman.
"Obviously, when you're talking about taking 90 to 100 pounds of meth and well over $2 million out of the community, that's a great opportunity for us to make an impact and really reduce the amount of drugs being traded illegally," Gaidos said.
He estimated the meth haul equaled about 50,000 doses. That large of a supply leads investigators to suspect the methamphetamine came from a larger source, possibly connected to cartels in Mexico, he said.
The meth was imported from Mexico, likely in liquid form, and then converted to crystal in the Gresham apartment, said Detective Josh Zwick. The drugs were sold locally down to ounces.
He estimated an ounce of meth costs roughly $400 on the street, but the price could fluctuate for various reasons, including discounts for repeat customers.
An ounce of meth five years ago in Oregon typically cost about $900, he said.
"There's more meth and heroin here than there ever has been and it's cheaper than ever," Zwick said. "The supply is huge. The demand is huge. They keep it flowing until something stops it."
Dealers go where their product is wanted and the addiction rate in Oregon is high enough that drugs will continue to flood the market, he said.
Alfredo Narcisco Pineda, 34, of Portland; Alejandro Lopez Gonzales, 25, of Gresham; and Celso Marroquin Benitez, 39, of Portland were booked into the Multnomah County Jail on suspicion of possessing and delivering methamphetamine and heroin.
Lopez Gonzalez and Marroquin Benitez also are accused of unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine and heroin. Narcisco Pineda also faces accusations of possession and delivery of cocaine, felon in possession of a firearm and delivery of meth, cocaine and heroin near a school.
-- Everton Bailey Jr.
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