Justice in Mexico

Tip Leads to Tijuana Drug Seizure Worth $3.3 Million

09/08/11 — One of the largest Sinaloa cartel distribution houses in Northern Mexico was raided this week, leading to the arrest of three cartel members and the seizure of 83.6 pounds of cocaine, 35.2 pounds of “cut” (a substance to prepare crystal methamphetamine), 4.6 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, grenade launchers, and assorted weapons.

Jesús Antonio Márquez Verdugo, left, Melina Jacobo Ibarra, and René Vega Castro were detained Tuesday at a Tijuana house where illegal drugs and an arsenal were found. Photo Credit: San Diego Red.

Located in the east district of La Presa, in the Montecarlo neighborhood of Tijuana, the house served as an operations center, weapons arsenal, and drug distribution hub for the Sinaloa Cartel. According to the State Preventive Police (Policia Estatal Preventiva, PEP), the raid occurred just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6. PEP agents received an anonymous tip that the house was a drug lab, leading authorities to one of the largest drug seizures tied to the Sinaloa cartel in Tijuana to date.

Upon arriving at the location, PEP agents observed a driver of a white Isuzu Rodeo exit the parked car with a gun in his hand. When ordered to drop the weapon, the man ran inside the house where he was detained. The man identified himself as Jesús Antonio Márquez Verdugo, “el Navo”, aged 27. The agents confiscated the loaded 9 mm gun he was carrying and detained a woman inside the house, identified as Melina Jacobo Ibarra, 27, who was wrapping small packages of crystal meth. The agents also detained René Vega Castro, the passenger in the Isuzu, who was carrying a 9 mm gun and they discovered a  .223 caliber weapon modified to launch grenades under her seat. In the glove compartment, a .30-06 rifle, 161 doses of crystal meth, 156,400 Mexican pesos (12,512 USD) and $886 in U.S. currency were discovered. PEP reported that the search of the property yielded 35 packages of cocaine, with a total weight of 83.6 pounds, and two packages of crystal methamphetamine, which had a total weight of 4.6 pounds. Agents also seized 35.2 pounds of a substance used to prepare crystal methamphetamine.  Inside the house, agents found another 9 mm gun, a .380 pistol, 66 clips for an AK-47, three gun clips, a .37 caliber rifle, and 563 rounds of various calibers.

The Baja California Public Safety Department (Departamento de Seguridad Pública, DSP) estimated that the confiscated drugs had a street value of $3.3 million.


Martínez, Julieta. “Incautan arsenal y 38 kilos de coca en Tijuana.” El Universal. September 8, 2011.

Millán, Omar. “Tip leads to huge haul of cartel’s drugs Tijuana.” San Diego Red.  September 8, 2011.

“Cae ‘arma de guerra’ de El Chapo.” El Mexicano. September 8, 2011.

“Caen tres con arsenal de Cártel de Sinaloa.” La Cronica. September 8, 2011.

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