Nov. 4—An investigation into cartel-related activity led to a sting operation in Southeast Decatur that landed five people in Morgan County Jail after they were observed Thursday trying to sell up to 165 pounds of marijuana, according to an affidavit filed by a drug task force agent.

The arrests, according to the affidavit, were part of an investigation into a California-based marijuana trafficking organization “with ties to the cartel” that is transporting large amounts of the drug to Alabama.

Each of the defendants arrested Thursday is being held in lieu of $1 million bond.

The street value of the drugs is an estimated $1.5 million, according to Huntsville Police spokeswoman Sydney Martin. She said the North Alabama Drug Task Force (NADTF) conducted the seizure and the five defendants are from California.

Charged with drug trafficking were Christina Camacho Gomez, 27, of Tipton, California; Rene Rinconi Varona, 31, of Adelando, California; Alfredo Rinconi Reyes, 33, of Sacramento, California; Adrian Farias, 19, no hometown listed; and Balfre Rinconi Gonzalez, 43, no hometown listed.

According to the affidavit filed by NADTF agent Blake Dean before Morgan County Circuit Judge Jennifer M. Howell, a confidential informant told Dean that “several subjects were in Decatur with large amounts of marijuana.” The informant met with Gomez, who was with four others, at the Waffle House at 710 Sixth Ave N.E. near Motel 6, according to the affidavit.

Varona and Gomez met with the informant in the restaurant’s parking lot and Varona went to a gold Cadillac Escalade and got out a blanket that contained two vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana and showed it to the informant, the document said. Each bag weighed about 1 pound, according to the affidavit.

Camacho told the informant to “check the quality and that if he liked it, she would sell him over 100 pounds,” according to the affidavit.

The affidavit said the drug agents received the marijuana and kept surveillance on the restaurant, the motel and a white Toyota 4Runner with a California license plate in the motel parking lot. The informant called Camacho back and said he wanted to purchase the additional 100 pounds, the affidavit said.

The informant met the group at a Walmart parking lot.

“Camacho advised the CI that they would follow him to a parking lot of an apartment complex at 2315 8th St. S.E. Decatur to complete the deal,” the affidavit said.

The five drug trafficking suspects got into the Escalade and drove back to the hotel and Farias then got into the Toyota, according to the affidavit, and the two vehicles followed the informant’s vehicle to the apartment parking lot near Wally World Mini Mart on Point Mallard Drive.

“They all parked in the parking lot. We conducted a takedown,” Dean wrote in the affidavit. He wrote that “there was a substantial amount of vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana in plain view in the back of the 4Runner. Farias also gave consent to search.”

They seized 163 pounds of marijuana from the 4Runner, plus the 2 pounds previously provided to the informant, according to the affidavit.

Dean wrote Farias was the only suspect who claimed to speak English and he “claimed to have no knowledge of anything and stated he forgot why he came to Alabama and how he got here.”

The defendants were processed into the Morgan County Jail shortly after 5 a.m. Thursday, according to Morgan County Jail records. Public information officers with the Decatur Police Department and Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said their departments did not participate in the arrests.

The drug task force team is a multi-jurisdictional federal drug task force led by the Huntsville Police Department.

Martin said the investigation is ongoing.

mike.wetzel@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2442. Twitter @DD_Wetzel.



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