A sting operation by Modesto police and Stanislaus County sheriff's detectives netted seven arrests this week, authorities reported.
The Modesto Narcotics Enforcement Team and the sheriff's STING unit served a search warrant on the 2600 block of Riverdale Avenue after a tip about a possible drug house in operation, deputy Royjindar Singh said.
About 2 p.m. Tuesday, detectives entered the house after watching apparent customers coming and going all day. They arrested two people who live at the home -- James Eldridge, 47, and Juanita Valenzuela, 31 -- on suspicion of possessing narcotics, marijuana and a controlled substance for sale, possessing a loaded firearm, cultivating marijuana and criminal conspiracy.
Officers found several mature marijuana plants growing inside, $4,600 in cash, 4 pounds of marijuana, about an ounce of methamphetamine and 1½ ounces of cocaine, Singh said. They also found scales, plastic bags and razors for cutting drugs.
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Phone ringing nonstop
While they were inside, detectives found the phone ringing nonstop, Singh said. After officers took Eldridge and Valenzuela to get booked and law enforcement activity outside died down, people began coming back to the door looking to buy drugs. Officers decided to set up a reverse sting to catch drug buyers.
Within two hours, detectives arrested five people: Aaron Vaughn, 35, of Newman; Kenneth Robinson, 52, of Turlock; and Modestans Gregory Greener, 23, Randy Taylor, 38, and Mark Mata, 27. All were arrested on suspicion of attempting to possess a controlled substance, Singh said. Everyone except Taylor, who had several outstanding warrants, was released without bail.
Eldridge and Valenzuela posted bails of $50,000 and were released from jail.
Modesto's narcotics team has been training the Sheriff's Department STING, or Special Team Investigating Narcotics and Gangs, unit in techniques to take down drug operations, Singh said.
"And the moral of the story?" he said. "All this started from somebody calling in a tip."
The Sheriff's Department asks anyone with information about possible drug activity to call CrimeStoppers at 521-4636.
Callers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.
Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2235.