Dec 12, 2012 8:33 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News
The FBI says 22 people were charged Wednesday in a meth bust in Paso Robles.
Law enforcement agencies including the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff and Paso Robles Police stormed the Economy Inn Motel and a number of other private homes Wednesday morning.
This comes after a year-long investigation by the Central Coast Safe Streets Task Force.
According to the FBI, the case began in 2011 when members of the task force were investigating gang-related criminal activity on the Central Coast.
In the course of that investigation, authorities discovered and identified a number of members of a drug trafficking organization affiliated with local street gangs.
Just as the rain began to fall Wednesday morning, police arrived at the Economy Inn Motel.
"At 6:45 this morning, they came knocking on our door and said they needed us to come out," says Stephanie Power.
She, her husband and nine-month-old daughter live in the motel but are not part of the investigation. They were asked to leave their room as police and K9 units moved in.
"Cars parked in the front, unmarked cars parked in the back, they were everywhere," Power said.
The investigation also led police to a home in the 3800 block of Union Road in Paso Robles.
"The task force seized multiple pounds of methamphetamine, and a variety of other drugs and weapons, as well as a large amount of cash," says Robert Clark of the FBI.
The FBI believes the meth came from Mexican cartels due to the high quality of the drugs being made and distributed.
"The methamphetamine was sold for amounts ranging from $800 to a $1,000 per ounce, and the defendants used coded language to negotiate the transaction," Clark said.
The task force was able to place undercover informants within the smuggling operation to help gather evidence and crucial information about the drug ring.
"We've taken individuals off the street today, and as I stand here with you, I know that some criminals are out there saying hey, those sixteen guys are gone, now there's an opportunity for us," says Clark.
Sixteen people were arrested Wednesday, and three in a bust on September 16.
The FBI says it is looking for three people suspected of being connected to the smuggling ring.
They are Jesus Alcaraz Martinez of Atascadero, 24, Edgar Alvarez-Rendon of Paso Robles, 24, and Melanie Wilson, 39, also a resident of Paso Robles.
If you have any information about their whereabouts call 911.
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