The three people arrested in connection with the 750 pounds of methamphetamine — worth $34 million on the street — are believed to have ties to a Mexican drug-trafficking organization, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Alberto Rodriguez, 28, Carlos Aguilar, 25, and Liliana Lopez, 24, all of San Jose, appeared in court Monday afternoon and were ordered held on $2 million bail each by Superior Court Judge Jerome Nadler.
All are charged with conspiracy to transport a controlled substance, manufacturing a controlled substance, possession for sale of a controlled substance, child endangerment, quantity enhancements, and a gang enhancement, the DEA said.
Multiple items believed to be stolen from Palo Alto were recovered from the apartment located in the 4400 block of Woods Drive, the DEA, San Jose Police Department, Santa Clara County District Attorney and Palo Alto Police Department stated in a press release.
Police had been tracking an iPad by its GPS signal and did not have a warrant to search the apartment, but the apartment occupants gave police permission to enter, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney David Tomkins said Monday. Detectives conducted a preliminary search of the residence for the stolen property and observed the methamphetamine. Detectives contacted the San Jose Police Department and Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office for assistance, who subsequently contacted the DEA San Jose Resident Office, according to the joint-agency announcement.
Agents found what they believed was a methamphetamine-conversion laboratory, where methamphetamine was being converted to an "ice" or crystal form. Ice methamphetamine has the appearance that is often described as that of broken glass or shattered ice and is ingested by smoking.
DEA spokesperson Special Agent Casey Rettig said the investigation is still in the preliminary stages. No charges have been filed so far in the Palo Alto burglary and iPad thefts, she said. Palo Alto police are deferring all media inquiries to the DEA due to the magnitude of the investigation.
Tompkins said Palo Alto police investigators deserve commendations for their work in uncovering the drugs. Two of the officers were experienced in this type of case and knew what to look for, he said.
Methamphetamine — also called crank or speed — is a potentially addictive drug that creates an intense euphoria or "rush" when snorted, smoked or injected, according to the National Institutes of Health.
District Attorney Jeff Rosen has estimated about 100 pounds of methamphetamine is seized in the county annually, Tompkins said.