In the second big drug bust in the past month, Siskiyou County-wide Interagency Narcotic Task Force agents confiscated nearly 12 pounds of methamphetamine from the suitcase of a Portland, Ore. man at a bus stop in Weed Tuesday morning.

Agents arrested Martin Chavez, 49, after a narcotic detecting canine alerted them to the presence of drugs in a suitcase stored on a northbound commercial bus, said Allison Giannini, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office.

Chavez, who was a passenger on the bus, identified himself as the owner of the suitcase but denied knowing its contents, Giannini said. Chavez was asked for permission to search the suitcase and he agreed.

When the suitcase was opened, agents found 12 individual packages wrapped in duct tape, a packaging method consistent with concealing large amounts of contraband, said Giannini. One of the packages was opened and its contents tested positive for methamphetamine.

Chavez was arrested for possession of methamphetamine for sale and transportation of methamphetamine. He was booked at the Siskiyou County Jail with a bail of $500,000.

“We’ve had a really good month,” said Task Force Commander Ed Cameron. On Jan. 9, 18 ounces of crystal meth and two kilos of black tar heroin was recovered from a Weed residence. Juan Garcia, 32, was arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance for sale, transportation of a controlled substance, possession of a narcotic for sale and transportation of a narcotic. His bail was also set at $500,000 and he remains in custody.

The operation at the bus stop was part of a routine Task Force operation, Cameron explained. “It was a good piece of police work.”

The 11.8 pounds of meth recovered from Chavez’s suitcase have an approximate street value of $1 million. The crystal meth recovered from Garcia’s house has a street value of approximately $120,000, and the black tar heroin a value of about $400,000.

Sheriff Jon Lopey said finds like these “validate the effectiveness and value of our local drug task force,” which is made up of members from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, Yreka Police Department, Weed Police Department, Siskiyou County Probation Department, Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office, Mt. Shasta Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement.

“This major drug arrest also highlights the type and amount of dangerous drugs being transported on our highways,” said Lopey. “Unfortunately, many illicit drugs are finding their way into our local communities, which requires a strong and sustained law enforcement effort. We also need help from our fellow citizens to eradicate illegal drugs in our communities.”

Lopey encourages citizens to report suspected illicit drug activity to the SCINTF at (530) 842-6116.