Troopers find 7½ pounds of meth during traffic stop

Three men and a juvenile girl were arrested near Ashland; toddler was placed in protective custody
February 12, 2010

By Anita Burke

Oregon State Police found methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $150,000 and arrested four people from the Portland area after stopping a speeding SUV near Ashland Wednesday.

A senior trooper stopped a northbound 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe with Oregon license plates for speeding on Interstate 5 near milepost 11 at about 6:45 a.m. Wednesday, OSP said in a news release Thursday.

A search of the vehicle found 7.5 pounds of meth hidden inside, prompting further investigation, authorities said.

Police arrested three men and a 17-year-old girl, seized the meth and took the girl's 1-year-old child into protective custody.

The driver, Israel Garcia-Juarez, 27, of Beaverton, was charged with possession, distribution and manufacture of methamphetamine. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also put a hold on him, suspecting he is in the country illegally.

Two passengers, Francisco Javier Romero-Perez, 21, and Aron Cervantes-Hernandez, 32, both of Portland, face the same charges. Romero-Perez, who lives at the same address as the teen and her child, is also charged with endangering the welfare of a minor.

Bail on the drug charges is set at more than $1 million, but the immigration holds preclude the suspects from being released on bail. All three remained in jail Thursday.

The teenage girl was lodged in the Jackson County juvenile detention center on a charge of endangering the welfare of a minor. The toddler was placed into the custody of the Department of Human Services.

Troopers were assisted by OSP Drug Enforcement Section detectives assigned to a Drug Enforcement Administration task force, Rogue Area Drug Enforcement team and agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at e-mail ... WS/2120329