Three men were arrested and eight pounds of methamphetamine were seized in Los Osos on Wednesday as a result of an investigation into a Mexican drug cartel, authorities said.
An additional man not yet named was arrested in Ontario. As of Wednesday evening, authorities were still searching for the man’s brother, who is also linked to the drug operation.
The multiagency investigation that led to Wednesday’s arrests focused on the alleged drug-trafficking activities of Julio Gutierrez, 36, of Los Osos. Gutierrez orchestrated the sale of narcotics across the Central Coast and to locations outside California, authorities said.
Related raids were also conducted in Riverside County on Wednesday with information obtained from the Los Osos investigation, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department.
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Interviews with suspects detained Wednesday could lead to more arrests, according to the FBI.
Detectives from the sheriff’s narcotics unit began the three-month investigation. The three suspects taken into custody in Los Osos by the FBI are Gutierrez and two Southern California men: Jeronimo Baldivias, 45, and Eleuterio Corona, 37. Authorities declined to disclose the specific hometowns of the other men. Mugshots of federal detainees aren’t released.
Authorities are investigating whether Corona and Baldivias are U.S. citizens. Gutierrez is a U.S. citizen, according to the FBI.
As of Wednesday, authorities were still searching for Mario Garcia-Mendoza, 32, of Ontario, whom the FBI has identified as a fugitive.
The FBI’s criminal complaint charges Gutierrez and Garcia with distributing methamphetamine, which carries a possible sentence of 10 years to life in federal prison. Specific charges for the other two men were not disclosed.
The men arrested Wednesday are to arrive at the federal court in Los Angeles this afternoon.
The arrests occurred when an informant planned to purchase five pounds of methamphetamine in Los Osos.
The five packages of methamphetamine, each wrapped in black electrical tape and heat-sealed bags, were discovered in a hidden passenger airbag compartment of a blue Dodge Durango parked in front of a home near the intersection of Seventh Street and Pismo Avenue in Los Osos, where Gutierrez lived.
The Dodge Durango reportedly arrived in the county Tuesday night or early Wednesday.
The seized drugs have a street value of approximately $150,000, authorities said.
In addition to the four arrests Wednesday morning, authorities detained five individuals on potential immigration violations linked to the operation in Southern California.