After an apparent standoff, San Bernardino police this week arrested a man and a woman after finding nearly $3 million worth of black-tar heroin in the man’s home, along with a small amount of methamphetamine and a handgun. The pair is charged with two counts of drug possession, and the man was charged with discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner and resisting a police officer. Now, the police are wondering whether the couple may have ties to a drug cartel.

San Bernardino police apparently were called the house on July 25 after a neighbor reported that the man had fired a gun in his front yard. That led to a 45-minute standoff between police and the man, a 33-year-old from San Bernardino, who barricaded himself in the house until a SWAT team arrived. He then agreed to come outside, along with a 30-year-old woman from Tijuana, Mexico.

When police searched the house, they discovered 76 pounds of heroin, which they say is worth $3 million. The bust ended in the police department’s largest drug seizure ever, according to a spokesperson for the department.

A joint unit of narcotics and gang officers has now been assigned to the case, although the spokesperson declined to say exactly who was under investigation. She did say that the department assumes the two defendants were not acting alone.

Both people were arrested and taken to San Bernardino’s Central Detention Center, where they were charged with possession of a controlled substance for sale in connection with the heroin, along with simple possession of a controlled substance for the small amount of methamphetamine also found at the house. The man was also charged with a firearms offense and with resisting a police officer.

Bail was set for the man at $2,050,000, while the woman’s bail was set at only $50,000, and she has apparently been released.

Possession of such a large quantity of drugs can legally be considered possession with intent to distribute. However, it is not clear what evidence the San Bernardino police have discovered that led them to believe the pair might be involved with a Mexican drug cartel. That kind of headline-grabbing supposition needs to be backed up by fact.

Should you ever be arrested for drug possession, know this: Even if you did, in fact, possess some illegal drugs, don’t assume that you are guilty of whatever you are charged with. Police and prosecutors may over-charge you, pile charges on top of charges, or even engage in speculation about your motives and connections. They may not be able to prove every aspect of the charges against you in court. Whatever the facts of your situation, you probably have more options than you think.


  • Riverside Press-Enterprise, “Cartel ties probed in heroin arrest,” Sandra Stokley and Brian Rokos, July 27, 2011
  • Riverside Press-Enterprise, “Gunfire, standoff lead to record heroin bust,” Steven Barrie, July 26, 2011