Josephine County investigation nets meth, guns, three arrests

A months-long investigation into methamphetamine distribution in Josephine County led to the seizure of two pounds of meth and six guns, as well as the arrest of three men, including two California men arrested at gunpoint outside Brighton Academy.

Arrested were Chris Sage, 48, of Grants Pass and two Sacramento, Calif., men: John G. Martinez, 28, and Taro Manuita, 36.

Sage was found with 4 ounces of meth, a pound of marijuana, a stolen assault rifle and a shotgun, Oregon State Police reported. He was arrested Wednesday morning near Sixth and L streets.

Drug investigators had an apartment under surveillance after getting a tip that an out-of-state shipment of meth was being distributed locally. Officers spotted Sage leave the apartment carrying a canvas tarp concealing firearms, an OSP news release said. He then was arrested outside the apartment, police said.

As the investigation continued on Wednesday, police stopped a vehicle with three people inside on Seventh Street near Manzanita Avenue. Martinez and Manuita were arrested at about 2 p.m. Wednesday outside Brighton Academy, 1121 N.E. Seventh St. A woman in the car wasn't arrested, police said.

Thereafter, authorities found the two pounds of meth and four guns at an apartment at an undisclosed location.

The arrests came about as part of an investigation spanning several months by the Rogue Area Drug Enforcement team. The investigation, according to OSP, involved a "significant methamphetamine distribution organization" in Josephine County.

A pound of meth sells for about $13,000 and provides about 1,600 doses, although the number of doses could double, if the drug is diluted.

Other large busts in Oregon include 17 pounds of meth found two years ago in a vehicle on I-5 near Medford; 5 pounds of meth found two years ago in a vehicle stopped on Interstate 5 near Ashland; and 6 pounds of meth found four years ago in a car pulled over on I-5 near the California border.

In November, authorities in Lane County seized 52 pounds of meth in an investigation into a drug trafficking organization that distributed pounds of the drug weekly in Lane and Douglas counties.

— Shaun Hall, Daily Courier

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