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Possible Bush Visit to County Could Include Anti-Drug Event

An advance team from the White House was in Orange County on Tuesday to explore a possible visit by President Bush next week that could include an anti-drug event staged at the remote Rancho del Rio, former headquarters of a notorious drug smuggler.

If the visit is approved, sources said Bush would present Sheriff Brad Gates and other officials with a check for $4.39 million--their share of a heroin bust made by the Orange County Regional Narcotics Suppression Task Force on Feb. 10, 1988.

Law enforcement sources said it is believed to be the largest check ever given to a single police agency since a 1984 federal law allowed local police to use property and cash seized from drug traffickers to pay for anti-drug enforcement efforts.

Sources said Bush is tentatively scheduled to be in Los Angeles next Tuesday and Wednesday, and might add a visit to Orange County. Former County Supervisor Bruce Nestande and other sources said, however, that the visit is still being studied.

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In the drug bust last year, authorities seized 18 pounds of heroin and more than $5.2 million in cash. It was the largest seizure of money ever in a California drug raid.


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