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Police seize roughly $1 million worth of heroin on bus

Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement officers today assisted in the largest heroin seizure ever in Southern Oregon.

MADGE, along with federal agencies, worked a tip suggesting that two suspects were trafficking heroin on a commercial bus heading through Jackson County.

Officers entered the bus bound for Vancouver, Wash., arrested two California residents and seized two large bags packed with 47 pounds of heroin worth approximately $1 million.

"It is safe to say this is the most heroin seized in Southern Oregon at one time," MADGE Lt. Brett Johnson said.

The heroin was wrapped tightly in plastic and bundled in 20 individual packages. Each package weighed around one kilogram.

Johnson said the street value of the heroin could have blossomed to $2.5 million if it was broken into smaller quantities and sold to end users.

"Usually one pound of heroin is considered a large bust for us," Johnson said. "Forty-seven pounds is unheard of around here."

Arrested were Antonio Contreras, 21, of Mira Loma, Calif., and Ranee Duarte, 18, of Santa Ana, Calif. They were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin and possession of heroin.

Contreras was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $525,000, while Duarte was cited and released on her own recognizance.

Johnson did not speculate on how the pair found themselves in possession of such a large quantity of heroin.

"They did take a big risk by packing it all together and driving through," Johnson said.

— Chris Conrad