NORTH BEND — The 10 pounds of methamphetamine confiscated by the South Coast Interagency Narcotics Unit (SCINT) on Thursday is the third in a string of investigations since December that have netted more than 25 pounds of meth and tens of thousands of dollars.
“There is definitely a lot more drugs, not just meth — there’s a lot of heroin — that is in this area right now,” Capt. Cal Mitts, the unit's director, said on Tuesday.
Thursday’s bust alone yielded nearly $47,000 in cash, multiple firearms, body armor, scales, and stolen property that included a rifle and a power generator.
Law enforcement arrested five people at one house in North Bend that morning: Robert Burell, 67, his wife Vicky, 61, their son, Brian, 38, and two men from Bakersfield, Oscar Caudillo, 29, and Jose Cervantes, 30.
According to a SCINT press release on Tuesday, the 10 pounds of meth is the largest amount ever confiscated by the narcotics team.
In March, Oregon State Police confiscated 10.8 pounds of meth during a routine traffic stop.
Mitts said that incident — which he clarified was the largest amount seized in Coos County’s history — was one of those three operations.
The first occurred in December, when SCINT recovered a little more than four pounds of meth.
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According to Mitts, the ongoing investigative work reflects a rural county saturated with certain illicit drugs.
He said that the average price of a pound of meth had dropped from around $16,000 four years ago to somewhere around $3,000 or $4,000 currently.
Mitts said the price fluctuation indicated a high demand for the product and that drug cartels from Mexico were using it to their advantage.
“If you looked at it from the cartel’s standpoint — and if you consider that for a minute (as) just a simple business — the only way you can continue to stay in business and have profit is if there is an incredible amount of demand that keeps up with the dropping of your prices,” he explained. “So, they’ve basically flooded the market right now with product and they are mass producing these drugs — both heroin and meth — and they are being shipped to the United States just at an alarming rate. And there’s such a demand in Southwestern Oregon that those drugs are coming in here and they are being moved just immediately after coming into town; they’re being distributed — even 10 pounds — very quickly.”
SCINT works with federal agencies to determine illegal drugs’ origins.
According to Mitts, almost all of the meth and heroin in Coos County comes from California and by extension, Mexico, mostly by Interstate 5 and Highway 101.
He said that while SCINT can’t affect the locations where the drugs are being manufactured, it can still make significant impacts locally.
“I can tell you just from our sources of information, each one of our busts — and particularly one of (Thursday’s) size — makes a huge impact as far as availability of drugs that are on the street,” he added.