Two California men with 30 pounds of heroin arrested near Ashland

Two Southern California men remain in the Jackson County Jail on several heroin-related charges after Oregon State Police reportedly found 30 pounds of the drug in their car during a traffic stop on Interstate 5 last week.

Jose Raul Esparza, 26, of Calexico, Calif., and 21-year-old Armando Agustin Villasenor, of El Centro, Calif., are both jailed on charges of delivery, manufacture and possession of heroin. Bail for each is set at $500,000.

"It's not a record seizure for our department, but it definitely falls in the category of being very significant," OSP Lt. Gregg Hastings said.

An OSP trooper first spotted the two men at 7:30 a.m. Friday, July 5, near milepost 11 outside Ashland. Esparza was driving a Ford van, and the trooper pursued it for driving over the posted speed limit. Police found the 30 pounds of heroin in the vehicle's spare tire, located in the trunk, during the traffic stop. Investigators estimated the drug has a value of more than $600,000.

The men's destination remains under investigation.

Hastings said the seizure exceeds all of the agency's 2011 seizures combined.

"We've seen a definite jump in terms of what we had seen in seizures from a few years ago," he said. "(There's) still lots more out there that we aren't coming across."

— Ryan Pfeil

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