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MADGE arrests two in heroin trafficking ring

Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement investigators arrested two Californians Tuesday who have been linked to a heroin trafficking ring.

MADGE Lt. Brett Johnson said investigators have seized than a pound of heroin, a half pound of methamphetamine, two firearms and more than $20,000 in cash from the suspected ring over the course of a long-term investigation.

"These suspects are involved in a drug trafficking organization and have made several trips to Southern Oregon to deliver heroin," Johnson said.

MADGE officers, working on intelligence gathered during a lengthy investigation, stopped a vehicle Tuesday in the 700 block of Western Avenue to serve a narcotics search warrant.

Inside the vehicle, officers found packaged about five ounces of brown tar heroin and $9,265 they believed was drug proceeds, Johnson said.

Arrested were Ovacio Felix-Zazueta, 23, of Thermal, Calif. and Patricia Torres-Carrillo, 28, of Indio, Calif.

Both were lodged in the Jackson County Jail on charges of distribution and possession of heroin and conspiracy to distribute heroin.

The traffic stop was part of an investigation involving a heroin ring operating out of southern California that made inroads in Jackson County, Johnson said.

"We think these guys were big players," Johnson said.

Johnson said the pair spent a lot of time in the sparsely populated area outside San Diego and most likely received heroin shipments from Mexico.

They would then run the heroin up the Interstate 5 corridor, making stops in Jackson County.

"We know they've been through here before," Johnson said.

Johnson said they might have made additional stops in cities along the way to distribute narcotics.

"The half pound of methamphetamine in and of itself is a big deal," Johnson said. "But they were moving a lot of heroin up here."

Johnson said the heroin was the packaged brown tar variety, which is usually injected.

"This is the type of heroin we see the most of these days," Johnson said.

Johnson said there most likely will be additional arrests made in this case.

"We know others were involved in this," Johnson said. "Now it's about arresting them."

In addition to the charges alleged by MADGE, Felix-Zazueta is being held in jail on an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement illegal immigration hold.

"They've been coming up from California for a while and bringing a lot of heroin with them," Johnson said. "These arrests will make an immediate impact in the short term on the availability of heroin in this area."

— Chris Conrad

Ovacio Felix-Zazueta