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FBI alleges major drug deal in front of Citrus Heights coffee drive-thru

By Mike Hazlip—
The parking lot of a popular coffee drive-thru at a Citrus Heights shopping center was reportedly the crossroads of a drug and gun smuggling operation between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe, according to new information released by the Department of Justice.

A multi-agency investigation known as “Operation Bear Trap” uncovered a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin in and around the South Lake Tahoe area with illegal guns coming into California from Nevada, according to authorities. Two locations in Sacramento were identified where exchanges took place, including one in Citrus Heights.

A June 1 report by the Sacramento News and Review identified the parking lot near Dutch Brothers at 7853 Lichen Drive as the scene of a major methamphetamine deal, with 54-year-old Efrain Valentin identified as a suspect in the drug trafficking operation.

Valentin reportedly pulled up to the Dutch Brothers location on March 1, 2022, in a Cadillac Escalade, and met with another individual for the meth deal. But Valentin did not know the individual was a former burglar who was working for the FBI, according to the News and Review story.

In all, seven defendants were indicted for drug trafficking last year, according to a media release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In addition to the Lichen Drive location, authorities say another defendant, 47-year-old William Owen, used the parking lot of a Home Depot on Howe Avenue.

In April, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California, said Valentin was facing a four-count indictment stemming from his role in distributing methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

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