An unusually large narcotics seizure — more than 44 pounds of cocaine Tuesday night — sparked lots of questions — but few of them are likely to be answered any time soon, officials said Thursday.
“The arrest took place and the (20 kilograms of cocaine) were seized,” said Sgt. Saul Gomez of the California Highway Patrol’s Southern Division, during his explanation of the operation and the unusual steps that were taken afterward as a precautionary measure.
On Tuesday, about 10:20 p.m., CHP officers stopped a commercial vehicle near Lyons Avenue, as it was travelling in the northbound lanes of Interstate 5, on northbound I-5 freeway at Lyons Avenue.
“Upon further investigation, it was determined the driver was transporting approximately 20 kilograms (at least 44 pounds) of cocaine to northern California,” according to the report prepared by CHP officers.
The suspect was described only as a male Hispanic in his 40s.
Once an arrest is made, the suspect’s name is generally released as part of the public arrest record, which officials acknowledged in an interview Thursday.
“For the protection of the driver involved, we are withholding his name for the time being,” he said, “(as well as) details regarding the investigation — that is still ongoing.”
Gomez could not release any additional information other than confirming the drugs were believed to headed to Northern California.
A DEA official said earlier this week that officials tend to see drugs heading in a northerly direction and cash coming back on the other side of Interstate 5. The operation did not appear to have any federal involvement, according to DEA and FBI officials who were contacted Wednesday by The Signal.
However, those officials also cautioned that if there was involvement by another agency, it’s very possible that information would also not be released pending the outcome of the investigation.
“The driver is being questioned regarding his knowledge of the cargo,” Gomez said, adding that he couldn’t comment on whether there was involvement suspected from an organized crime syndicate, i.e. a street gang or a larger cartel.
“At this time, we cannot confirm any involvement by any street gang or any cartel,” Gomez said, adding, “however, we do know that the production of 20 kilograms of cocaine is not easy, and thus you can fill in the blanks with other people’s involvement.”
Gomez said CHP officers are still investigating but any charges filed with prosecutors would take place at the end of their investigation.
Jim Holt contributed to this report.