Federal authorities said they broke up a major drug-smuggling ring after nearly three weeks of surveillance of a ranch led to the arrest of seven people and the confiscation of $13 million worth of marijuana.
The joint investigation, known as Operation Alliance, involved local agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the U.S. Customs Service and the Internal Revenue Service as well as FBI agents in Tennessee, where the marijuana transportation allegedly was destined.
DEA officials said they believed the 8,800 pounds of marijuana that was confiscated had been smuggled from Mexico. San Diego DEA group supervisor Joe Moody said the marijuana was being stored in large trailers at the ranch and then taken to various locations.
"DEA believed this Julian organization was in its initial stages and could have distributed tons of marijuana on a monthly basis," Moody said. "I wouldn't doubt that this operation had been going on a long time."
Moody said agents seized two of the trailers at the Julian ranch that were loaded with marijuana as well as one other trailer that agents had followed to Tennessee. Moody said agents in Tennessee are continuing the investigation to determine who else may be involved there.
Agents arrested Larry Gottschalk, 46; Deborah Roe, 40; Ricardo Luevano, 33; Berry Schievink, 43; Arthur Tygesen, 48; Diego Vasquez, 19; and Gary Hodgson, 33. All of the suspects are U.S. citizens, except for Vasquez, who is Mexican. All are being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on suspicion of possession and intent to sell marijuana.