MADRAS, Ore. - Central Oregon drug agents staked out a bus rolling north through Madras and when it stopped, found a suitcase with marijuana inside. But a drug-sniffing K-9 found another suitcase holding a far bigger haul ? 25 canisters holding 35 pounds of methamphetamine, worth about $1 million, the largest bust in the regional drug team?s history. And a nervous-acting passenger who started walking away from the scene was arrested.
Juan Luis Rangel Cancino, 20, a Federal Way, Wash., resident and suspected illegal immigrant, had been acting suspiciously after the bus stopped, and began walking north on Highway 97, said Lt. Ken Mannix of the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team.
He was contacted and arrested on meth possession and delivery charges, held without bail for federal immigration officials at the Deschutes County Jail in Bend.
CODE Team detectives had developed information Wednesday that a large quantity of drugs was being transported on an Estrella Blanca bus traveling north on Highway 97 from California, Mannix said.
They found the bus heading north toward Madras and set up surveillance, moving in when it pulled over at its scheduled stop in Madras, Mannix said.
As some passengers decided to get out and others stayed on the bus, detectives began searching the luggage and found a large suitcase that had about 13 pounds of marijuana hidden in it, he said.
As the investigation unfolded, undercover detectives noticed Rangel Cancino acting suspiciously after getting off the bus, making ?obvious attempts to avoid police officers,? Mannix said
Deschutes County sheriff?s and Redmond police drug-detection dogs arrived to assist, and soon, they alerted on another piece of luggage, Mannix said.
In that suitcase, he said, drug agents found about 35 pounds of pre-packaged meth, located in 25 shrink-wrapped canisters.
Mannix said while the investigation is continuing, it appears the two drug seizures were not related. No arrests have been made in regards to the marijuana, he said, and detectives don?t believe Rangel Cancino was involved with or had knowledge of the marijuana being transported on the bus.
The seized methamphetamine, worth an estimated $1 million on the street, represents the largest illegal narcotics seizure by the CODE Team since its inception nearly 20 years ago, in 1991, and one of the largest single meth seizures in Oregon history, Mannix said.
?This seizure will result in a significant disruption to the drug trafficking organization responsible for it, as well as disrupt the flow of narcotics into the Central Oregon region,? the lieutenant said.
The CODE Team also thanked Deschutes and Jefferson county sheriff?s deputies, Redmond police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for assistance in the case.