By Douglas W. Motley
Sheriff’s investigators, while serving an active search warrant at a residence in the 24000 block of Geneva Drive in Crestline around 2:15 p.m. on Monday, June 6, discovered a methamphetamine manufacturing lab. They reportedly seized 933 pounds of processed methamphetamine, which is being held for evidence.
The primary suspect, Ramon Guadalupe Sanchez Maldonado, age 50, was taken into custody and arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sale. Maldonado was transported to the Sheriff’s Central Detention Center in San Bernardino, where he was booked, with bail set at $5,050,000. He was subsequently transferred to West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, pending an arraignment hearing.
District Attorney spokesperson Jacquelyn Rodriguez told The Alpine Mountaineer on Thursday, June 9, that no other suspects had been apprehended or identified. “Sheriff’s narcotics detectives are continuing their investigation,” she said.
Rodriguez shared that Maldonado has been charged with three felony counts of sale/offer to sell a controlled substance (PC113799) (a), possession of a controlled substance (PC11378) and manufacturing methamphetamine (PC11379.6 (a). “All of these counts have a special allegation due to the quantities involved,” Rodriguez said, adding that Maldonado was arraigned in San Bernardino County Superior Court on Thursday, June 9. He is scheduled for a pre-preliminary hearing on June 15, followed by a preliminary hearing on June 21. A trial date could be set following the preliminary hearing.
A search of www.AddictionResource.com shows that the street price of methamphetamine in California ranges from $2,500 to $5,000 a pound. In the first instance, the street price would be $23,325,000, while in the second instance it would equate to $46,650,000.
Court documents received by The Alpine Mountaineer on Thursday, June 9 indicate there are special allegations related to prior arrests that may enhance the penalties, including the amount of prison time Maldonado may face, if convicted of the current charges against him. The document states that manufacturing, selling, distributing, providing or sharing controlled substances in any form is extremely dangerous to human life. If someone dies as a result of using or being exposed to a controlled substance, he may be charged with murder (PC189).
Other allegations related to prior arrests include crimes that may have involved great violence, great bodily harm, threats of great bodily harm or other acts that involved a high degree of cruelty, viciousness or callousness, that the defendant was armed with or used a weapon at the time of the commission of the crime and that the defendant threatened witnesses, unlawfully prevented or dissuaded witnesses from testifying, suborned perjury or in any way illegally interfered with the judicial process.
In California, penalties range from one year in jail and a $1,000 fine for simple possession of meth, which is a misdemeanor. However, if a person is convicted of possession for sale of a large quantity of methamphetamine, the penalty increases to three years of incarceration.