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Tijuana cop allegedly caught trafficking heroin, meth in California

MexicoDrug TraffickingCrime, Law and JusticeCrimeCourts and the JudiciaryJustice System

A Mexican police officer charged with trafficking kilos of heroin and methamphetamine into Southern California is due in federal court Wednesday, authorities said.

Noe Raygoza-Garcia, 33, a police officer in Tijuana, was arrested in March after Border Patrol agents pulled him over about 70 miles north of the border on northbound Interstate 15 near Temecula.

According to a federal affidavit, Raygoza-Garcia was driving too slow and weaving between lanes in a red Dodge Neon with Baja California license plates on March 13. Border Patrol agents noticed that when the Neon drove past their SUV along with all the other cars on the highway, it was the only one to noticeably slow down.

The agents followed the Neon and pulled alongside, court documents show. According to the affidavit, the driver was "gripping the steering wheel very tightly."

When agents ran a check on the license plate, records showed a different driver had crossed the border in that car earlier in the day, court documents allege. When the Neon approached a Border Patrol checkpoint near Temecula, the agents pulled the car over.

The affidavit describes Raygoza-Garcia as shaking “excessively” when agents asked him to get out of the car. He allegedly told them he was heading to San Bernardino to visit a dying uncle but couldn’t say where his uncle lived or what was wrong with him.

Agents found a tool with a star-shaped socket in the glove compartment and used it to remove the Neon’s rear seats. Buried within the car, court documents allege, agents found 11 packages of heroin and methamphetamine weighing more than 10 kilos, or 22 pounds.

Raygoza-Garcia was indicted on one charge of possession with intent to distribute heroin and methamphetamine. He faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted and is being held without bail.

The 15 Freeway is a major drug corridor into the United States, and California has become a major gateway for methamphetamine from Mexico, state officials say.

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @josephserna

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