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The Region

Drug Bust Is Called Huge

Guns, two men and 226 pounds of cocaine are seized in Ontario. Authorities say the action will make a dent in local trafficking.

August 15, 2003|Kristina Sauerwein | Times Staff Writer

San Bernardino County sheriff's investigators arrested two Inland Empire men Thursday in a drug bust that netted 226 pounds of cocaine, $50,000 in cash, a semiautomatic machine gun and two handguns, authorities said. It was one of the biggest drug busts in recent county history, they said.

The cocaine's wholesale value is more than $1.5 million, said Chip Patterson, spokesman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

"We don't find this kind of haul very often," Patterson said. "[Dealers] are becoming smarter.... We consider this a pretty good chunk" out of the drug trafficking scene.

He said it also would reduce related crimes such as violence and fraud.

Authorities arrested Mario Illan Contreras, 33, and Heliodoro Cordova, 32, at an Ontario residence on suspicion of cocaine possession with the intent to sell.

They are being held on $5-million bail each, authorities said.

Officials declined to reveal specifics about the investigation but said they had obtained information months ago leading to the two men and their alleged ties to drug dealers in Colombia, where the cocaine is believed to have originated.

It was then smuggled through Mexico, Patterson said.

The investigation included help from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

No other suspects are being sought, Patterson said, "but there's always a possibility there's another one out there.

"At this point, we're satisfied."

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