Four Anaheim residents will be arraigned today in Orange County Municipal Court in Fullerton in connection with the seizure of 6.5 million pseudo-ephedrine tablets, an ingredient of methamphetamine.
They were among 21 people arrested last week after an investigation that began in January by police in Anaheim and Long Beach and the state Department of Justice.
The seized tablets, a legal drug that is commonly used as a decongestant, could produce about 900 pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of more than $11.5 million, Anaheim Capt. Marc Hedgpeth said Wednesday.
The four Anaheim residents arrested on suspicion to manufacture methamphetamine are Mohammad Shafiq Abdel, 37, Jamal M. Elabed, 34, Abdel Hameed Sobhi, 33, and Rana Suleiman, 29, all of Jordan. Two are legal residents and two are here on visas, police said.
"We don't know if we've uncovered the tip of the iceberg or if this is an isolated incident," Hedgpeth said.
They have all been released on bail at $65,000 each.
The 17 others, from Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, were arrested in connection with five methamphetamine laboratories in Bellflower, Whittier, Los Angeles and Long Beach.
At the drug labs, investigators seized hundreds of boxes of pseudo-ephedrine tablets, an estimated 500 pounds of extracted pseudo-ephedrine with a street value of $500,000 plus about 5 pounds of methamphetamine, police said.
Anaheim Police Lt. Dave Severson said since pseudo-ephedrine is readily available and accessible, "what law enforcement would like to see is the control of the sale of this product. Certainly there's a legitimate use for it. We don't want to restrict it, but control it."
Those arrested in Anaheim used parcel shipping companies to send the tablets from Ohio and Illinois to Anaheim, Hedgpeth said. The containers included television boxes, barbecue grill boxes and vacuum boxes, he said.
Police said they believe they took delivery of the tablets and distributed them to others who made methamphetamine.
The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are anticipated, Hedgpeth said.