Major meth ring bust in Bay Area

February 27, 2008 7:32:45 PM PST
A two year undercover investigation breaks up a methamphetamine distribution ring that stretched from San Francisco, San Jose and Gilroy all the way to Mexico.

More than 200 agents moved in on ten locations this morning. The FBI says the methamphetamine operation was a family run organization pushing meth made in Mexico and smuggled to the Bay Area.

"This operation we believe is responsible for distribution on the streets of up to 20 pounds of methamphetamine a month," said FBI special agent Joseph Schadler.

The FBI says 13 people are in custody. Some neighbors in East San Jose weren't shocked by the arrests there.

"This street used to be known for a lot of methamphetamine on this street not really surprised you know," said neighbor Miguel Quintero.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse estimates there are 731,000 people use meth in the United States.

Lori Johnson used to be one of those addicts. She started using at age 16. By 21 she was a prisoner to the drug.

"It was not allowing me to get anything done. It was like having one foot nailed to the ground and running really fast but only I'd go in a circle," said former meth user Lori Johnson.

Lori survived the grip of meth but many others do not. Dr. Jerry Callaway says the drug is a ticking time bomb.

"The problem is the toxicity of amphetamine. It will close the arteries and it will do it randomly and there is no warning," said addiction specialist Dr. Jerry Callaway.

The drug is not only dangerous for the user; prosecutors say it plays a major role in fueling other crime from theft to murder.

"I can tell you it is the number one drug we see on the criminal rap sheet weather it's by way of under the influence or possession. Definitely," said Deputy District Attorney Victor Chen.

Lori Johnson has been clean and sober for 21 years. She is now executive director of Amicus House, a drug and alcohol treatment program in San Jose.

"I hope that when I share my story with them, they're able to see she's walked a mile in my moccasins maybe I could listen to her and get help from her. Weather or not that's true all I can do is pray and hope," said Amicus House Executive Director Lori Johnson.

There are also hopes Wednesday morning's major raid will put a dent in Bay Area meth sales, at least for awhile.