ELK GROVE (CBS13) — Imagine meth being made in your backyard -- millions of dollars worth -- and then learning it's connected to a Mexican cartel. Investigators believe that was happening in an Elk Grove neighborhood.
Police say a high-ranking cartel member used the community as an assembly shop for his multi-million-dollar meth business.
At least two-dozen federal agents swarmed the area, all part of a multi-county bust that nabbed 18 people from here to the Bay Area, including Esdra Avila Carillo, a.k.a. Blanco.
"He was able to refine it, package it, and then distribute it to parts throughout the United States," said Patrick Vanier of the Santa Clara County DA's office.
Police say in one month, millions of dollars worth of methamphetamine was smuggled in from Mexico and processed at a home right across the street from one neighbor so spooked after hearing the cartel was allegedly involved, she didn't want to show her face.
"Wow, shocking because it's a regular neighborhood," she said. "I would never expect something like that."
Police say Blanco ran his drug business like a Fortune 500 company. His home base in Silicon Valley and Elk Grove was one of his satellite offices. The latter was chosen because of its easy access to distribution routes, notably Interstate 5.
"I would imagine that it was selected for a reason because of its accessibility to Interstate 5," said Vanier.
Neighbors say a drug bust in the community doesn't necessarily shock them, but police confirming big-time cartel businesses nearby surely does.
"Kind of surprising it's happening in this area. I mean especially those numbers, sure there's little things happening here and there, but not to that extent," said Elk Grove resident Rami Batakji.
Carillo is being held by police on $1 million bail.
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