Two men from Arizona are behind bars in Des Moines after what is believed to be the largest heroin bust in the city’s history. Des Moines Police Sergeant Jason Halifax says narcotics officers on Saturday found 11 pounds of heroin in a secret compartment of a pickup truck.
“In all of 2012, our narcotics unit seized 11 grams of heroin,” Halifax says. “This particular seizure totals almost 5,000 grams, so this is an enormous seizure relative to what we typically see with heroin.” Officers also seized three pounds of methamphetamine. Investigators believe the drug traffickers intended to sell the meth in Iowa while the heroin was to be sold in Indiana.
Halifax says the street value of the drugs is estimated at $1.3 million, but the value would increase as dealers divide and dilute the drugs before they’re sold. Halifax could not release many details about how the drug bust was executed, but officers searched two vehicles that had stopped at a convenience store off of Interstate 80.
“This was information that was developed by our narcotics investigators. Without getting too detailed into how they did that, through their investigation, they developed a timeframe of vehicles that may be traveling in the area…the vehicles were located and these narcotics were in a hidden compartment within (one of) the vehicles,” Halifax said.
Police arrested 50-year-old Abraham Diaz-Rodriguez and 42-year-old Ismail Portillo-Corrales. Both men are charged with possession with the intent to deliver schedule I and II narcotics and conspiracy to deliver schedule I and II narcotics. Immigration officials have also ordered “holds” on the two men.
“I’m not certain of their citizenship status…but there’s obviously some question about that as ICE is looking into that apparently,” Halifax said. State officials have reported that heroin is a relatively small, but growing problem in Iowa.
In 2011, there were 10 overdose deaths from heroin in Iowa. That compares to just one death in 2002.