Bail has been set at $2 million for the man arrested Wednesday after law enforcement officers found more than $5 million worth of suspected methamphetamine, fentanyl pills and fentanyl powder in his vehicle.
A sergeant with the Centralia Police Department had stopped the vehicle, a red 2014 Chevrolet Cruze, for driving 72 mph in a posted 60 mph zone near milepost 81 on northbound Interstate 5 at 12:47 p.m., according to police call logs and information filed in Lewis County Superior Court. While the sergeant was checking the vehicle’s records, a narcotics K9 “responded to the scene and alerted to the presence of narcotics in the vehicle,” according to court documents.
The driver, Angel Valenzuela-Duartez, 26, of Mexico, allegedly admitted to a Spanish-speaking officer that there was “work” in the car, which officers identified as “a term commonly used by drug dealers meaning ‘drugs,’” according to court documents.
Officers then detained Valenzuela-Duartez and impounded the vehicle, according to court documents.
Valenzuela-Duartez was booked into the Lewis County Jail just before 3:50 p.m. on Nov. 2. He has since been charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
When questioned, Valenzuela-Duartez allegedly “admitted to transporting heavy suitcases from California, but stated he didn’t know the exact quality of drugs.”
With the help of JNET, officers searched the vehicle and located and seized 105 pounds of a substance that field-tested positive as meth; 340,000 blue pills with the impressions of “M” on one side and “30” on the other that a sergeant “believed to be fentanyl;” and approximately 9 kilograms of a substance that field-tested positive as fentanyl powder.
“When combined, we have a street value of nearly $5 million and a defendant with zero connections to the community,” said Prosecuting Attorney Jonathan Meyer during Valenzuela-Duartez’ preliminary hearing in Lewis County Superior Court on Thursday, where he asked Judge James Lawler to set bail at $5 million.
Defense Attorney Rachael Tiller asked Lawler to set Valenzuela-Duartez’ bail no higher than $150,000 due to his financial status.
Lawler opted to set bail at $2 million.
“I agree that this is an incredible threat to community safety and I agree that he is a threat to flee if he is released,” he said Thursday.
Valenzuela-Duartez’ next court appearance is an arraignment hearing scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 10.