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Drug enforcement team arrests four, seizes 17 pounds of meth

by: Submitted photo Washington County K-9 team uncovers 17 pounds of methamphetamine.

The Westside Interagency Narcotics Team arrested an Oak Hills resident and three associates on Monday morning and seized more than 17 pounds of methamphetamine and $44,000 in cash.

Based on an ongoing investigation of a suspected drug runner, WIN detectives conducted a traffic stop on Jose Maldonado-Elizalde, 28, who was driving a pickup, around 10:30 a.m., near the Denney Road exit on Highway 217.

With assistance from the Washington County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit, WIN team detectives arrested Maldonado-Elizalde on an outstanding warrant and transported him to the Washington County Jail, said Sgt. David Thompson, sheriff's office spokesman.

The investigation led to the suspect's house in the 16000 block of Northwest Oak Hills Drive. A search of the house uncovered 14 pounds of methamphetamine and $5,000 in cash, Thompson said.

In addition to outstanding warrants, Maldonado-Elizalde faces an accusation of manufacture, possession and delivery of a controlled substance, methamphetamine.

During the investigation, one of Maldonaldo-Elizalde's associates, Jose Acosta-Echevarria, 23, was under surveillance. Based on the drugs found at Maldonado-Elizalde's house, a search warrant was obtained for Echevarria's house, in the 700 block of Southeast 15th Avenue. The search uncovered an additional 3.25 pounds of methamphetamine and $38,000 in cash.

Jose Acosta-Echevarria was charged with the unlawful possession and delivery of a controlled substance, methamphetamine.

The total amount of methamphetamine and cash seized from the two locations is 17.25 pounds and $44,000, respectively.

During the search of the second residence later on Monday, detectives made two further arrests.

Guadalupe Echeva-Maranda, 48, faces accusations of possessing a forged instrument associated with false Social Security cards and frequenting a known drug house. Isidro Acosta-Echevarria, 18, was arrested and accused of frequenting a known drug house.

All four suspects were booked into the Washington County Jail.

The suspects, excluding Isidro Acosta-Echevarria, had Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds placed on them.

Thompson said the methamphetamine was not manufactured at the residences and was likely imported from Mexico.

'It was one of the largest seizures of meth in some time,' he said.