Two suspects in Harnett County’s largest single drug raid will not be able to bond out of jail before trial.
Raul Topete Arreola and Aquileo Perez Pineda told Judge Paul Holcombe they would be unable to pay the $3 million bond set following their Saturday arrest for methamphetamine trafficking.
Deputies arrested the pair following a months-long investigation conducted by the Harnett County and Wake County Sheriff’s Offices in conjunction with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
Undercover investigators said they found more than 120 gallons of liquid methamphetamine stored in the driver’s side fuel tank of Arreola’s 2009 Peterbuilt semi-truck.
Neighbors said they saw several deputies circle a home on Will Lucas Road in Linden on Saturday morning.
“It’s the biggest (seizure). I’m on my 24th year, and this is the biggest one that I’ve ever been involved with. I’m sure it’s one of the biggest ones (in Harnett), maybe one of the biggest ever in the state,” Sheriff Wayne Coats said.
“The biggest asset to us is we’ve got it off the street before it was sold and could have harmed some of our county residents as well as other states. This was a big operation.”
Narcotics officers said that amount of liquid methamphetamine, which would fill three or four bathtubs, could be processed into approximately 454 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of about $90.8 million.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement issued a detainer for Pineda, whose listed address is in Georgia.
The 48-year-old has a court-appointed attorney, Jason Kimble of Buzzard Law Firm, who said the firm has an attorney who is fluent in Spanish and will assist with representation.
Coats said ICE officials are working to verify the immigration status of Arreola, 49, who is registered in Galt, California.
Court records indicate Arreola has a monthly income of about $14,000 from his work as a truck driver, with $9,000 going to gas and insurance.
Investigators said the big money was not in the truck’s cargo, but in the gas tank.
“It would have been distributed outside of the state of North Carolina,” Coats said. “Atlanta’s part of a hub coming up from Mexico, so somewhere wherever this was headed to, we were able to intercept it, regardless of where.
“The concerning part is how much gets through that we don’t actually get. That’s what’s alarming.”
Each of the suspects faces charges for trafficking more than 400 grams of methamphetamine.
If convicted, they could face between 225 months and 282 months in prison with a minimum fine of $250,000. Their next court appearances are set for June 5.
An investigation into the transportation and trafficking of methamphetamine has been underway for several months by the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
The investigation lead authorities to discover over $90 million in methamphetamine on Saturday.
Investigators seized a 2009 Peterbuilt semi-truck that was driven by 49-year-old Raul Topete Arreola of Galt, California, near the 100 block of Will Lucas Road in Linden.
Authorities say that’s when investigators found 120 gallons of liquid methamphetamine stored in the driver’s side fuel tank on the semi-truck. That amount of liquid methamphetamine would convert to approximately 454 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of $90.8 dollars.
Authorities also arrested Aquileo Perez Pineda, 48, of Gainsville, Georgia during the investigation.
Both men have been charged with three counts of trafficking Methamphetamine. They were placed in custody in the Harnett County Detention Center under a $3 million bond each.
An immigration detainer has been issued for Pineda. ICE is looking into the immigration status is Arrola.