A suspect with alleged cartel ties was arrested and accused of smuggling 135 pounds of narcotics across the California border into Orange County.

The suspect, who was not identified, is believed to be an associate of the Sinaloa drug cartel, according to the California Attorney General’s Office.

Authorities arrested the suspect in Santa Ana on Sept. 12 after discovering they had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border with a vehicle filled with hidden narcotics.

While searching the suspect’s vehicle, authorities found “89 bundles of methamphetamines, totaling 135 pounds” inside a hidden compartment.

X-ray photos of the vehicle show the bundles were lined up tightly together inside the car’s hidden compartment. Photos from authorities show the meth appeared to be contained in sealed, clear plastic bags.

  • A suspect believed to have cartel ties was arrested for allegedly smuggling 135 pounds of narcotics across the California border on Sept. 12, 2023. (California Attorney General's Office)
  • A suspect believed to have cartel ties was arrested for allegedly smuggling 135 pounds of narcotics across the California border on Sept. 12, 2023. (California Attorney General's Office)

The incident prompted a multi-agency investigation involving the California Highway Patrol, local police and sheriff’s departments, drug trafficking task forces, the California Department of Justice and more.

“Through the work of the California Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners, we stopped a trafficker from delivering dangerous illicit drugs that would have ended up in our communities,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “I am grateful for the DOJ agents and our task force partners across the state for their collaboration to get illegal drugs off our streets. This work saves lives. As our state’s chief law enforcement officer, protecting the public safety of Californians is my highest priority.”