North County chase ends with 4 arrests after 25 pounds of meth found

Sheriff’s detectives found more than 25 pounds of methamphetamine hidden inside a spare tire of a vehicle that fled from them Thursday morning, May 9, through several North County cities, authorities said.The detectives from the Sheriff’s Department’s Border Crime Suppression Team arrested four of the vehicle’s five occupants, all of whom tried to run away, Sgt. Bill Kerr said. One woman successfully evaded capture.

The pursuit began about 10:30 a.m. on northbound Interstate 5 near Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach, Kerr said in a statement. Detectives tried to pull over a driver, and when he refused to stop, the detectives gave chase.

The driver exited the freeway at Encinitas Boulevard, where one of his passengers got out and ran away, Kerr said. That 24-year-old man was later captured and arrested, while the driver and the other three passengers got back onto northbound I-5.

Authorities said the driver exited the freeway again on La Costa Avenue and headed east into Carlsbad, where he and his three remaining passengers abandoned the vehicle at Levante Street and Caminito Monarca, Kerr said. By this time, the detectives from the specialized Border Crime Suppression Team were joined by deputies from the Sheriff’s Department’s Encinitas patrol station and Carlsbad police.

The law enforcement officers arrested the driver, a 28-year-old man, and two of his passengers, men ages 34 and 26, “in close proximity to the vehicle,” Kerr said.

“An unknown female was able to evade arrest and remains at large,” the sergeant said in the statement released Thursday afternoon.

Inside the vehicle’s trunk, sheriff’s personnel found a little more than 25 pounds of methamphetamine hidden inside a truck tire, Kerr said.

All four men arrested were booked into jail Thursday on suspicion of several felony charges, including transporting a controlled substance and possession of more than 10 kilograms of methamphetamine, jail records showed. The driver was also booked on suspicion of reckless evading, and all four were being held in lieu of at least $170,000 bail.

--- Alex Riggins is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune