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News Release
May 31, 2005

Methamphetamine “Super Lab” Seized in Linn County, Oregon

Salem, Oregon – Karin J. Immergut, the United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, and Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge, Seattle Field Division, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced today the arrest of 15 people on drug charges related to the dismantling of a clandestine laboratory capable of manufacturing more than 90 pounds of methamphetamine at one time.

The DEA Salem Resident Office Task Force led the joint investigative efforts of federal, state, and local officers. More than 90 law enforcement officers from the DEA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Salem Police Department, Oregon State Police, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Linn County Sheriff’s Office, the Oregon National Guard RAID Unit, the United States Marshals Service, and the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) coordinated efforts and took part in the execution of six federal search warrants on May 26, 2005.

“The investigation and prosecution of methamphetamine manufacturers and distributors is a priority for the United States Attorney’s Office,” said United States Attorney Karin J. Immergut. “This case is just one example of the commitment of the dedicated state and federal law enforcement agencies to hold accountable those individuals who manufacture and sell methamphetamine in the State of Oregon.”

“This methamphetamine manufacturing organization operated one of the largest clandestine laboratories ever seized in Oregon,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Rodney G. Benson. “We have taken away a large source of methamphetamine in the State of Oregon. This investigation will have a significant impact in reducing the availability of methamphetamine and its negative impact on the community.”

During the search, law enforcement authorities arrested 15 individuals and seized approximately 200 pounds of precursor chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine. Also seized were more than 3 pounds of methamphetamine, over $195,000 in cash, 5 vehicles, and 7 firearms, including a fully loaded SKS assault rifle and two stolen handguns.

“This has been a tremendous effort by the DEA Salem Task Force and is an example of the great cooperative working relationship between all the supporting agencies,” said Walt Meyers, Salem Chief of Police.

“ICE is using its unique tools and authorities, including its ability to enforce immigration laws, to dismantle criminal organizations like this one that pose a threat to our communities,” said Leigh Winchell, Special Agent-in-Charge for ICE investigations in Oregon. “We will continue working closely with our law enforcement partners to attack this problem and take those involved off the street and, when appropriate, remove them from the United States.”

Five of the 15 individuals arrested were charged in a federal indictment with Conspiracy to Manufacture Methamphetamine. On Wednesday, June 1, 2005, Arturo Arevalo-Cuevas, Miguel Silva Chava, Venancio Villalobos-Soto and Adriana Arevalo-Cuevas will appear for arraignment on the indictment. On May 27, 2005, Sonia Garcia appeared for arraignment before United States Magistrate Judge Dennis J. Hubel, who advised her of her rights and the charge against her. A trial date is scheduled for August 2, 2005. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon will prosecute this case.

A criminal indictment is only an allegation and not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

For further information, contact Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer J. Martin at (503) 727-1000.


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