LILLINGTON — Two men were arrested Saturday in connection with an ongoing Harnett County Sheriff’s Office investigation into a multi-million dollar drug operation involving the transportation and trafficking of methamphetamine, a news release said.

Raul Topete Arreola, 49, and from California, was the driver of a 2009 Peterbuilt semi-truck where authorities discovered 120 gallons of liquid methamphetamine stored in the driver’s side fuel tank, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The release said, “120 gallons of liquid methamphetamine would be converted to approximately 454 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine. When converted, the kilograms of crystal methamphetamine would have a street value of $90.8 million.”

Aquileo Perez Pineda, 48, and from Georgia, also was taken into custody.

Authorities seized the truck near the 100 block of Will Lucas Road in Linden.

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Arreola and Pineda were each charged with three counts of trafficking methamphetamine. The suspects have been placed in the Harnett County Detention Center with bail set at $3 million apiece.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, an immigration detainer has been issued for Pineda, who is Hispanic; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is looking into the immigration status of Arreola, who is also Hispanic.

The Wake County Sheriff’s Office and N.C. State Bureau Investigation helped in the probe that has been moving forward for several months.

Staff writer Michael Futch can be reached at mfutch@fayobserver.com or 486-3529.

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