Tijuana opera singer charged with drug smuggling - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Tijuana opera singer charged with drug smuggling

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VISTA (CNS) - A renowned 23-year-old opera singer from Tijuana remained jailed in Vista Saturday, as he was arrested for driving a car loaded with methamphetamine north across San Diego County.

Maximino Melchor Vazquez was arrested Sept. 19 after he was pulled over by members of a multi-agency task force targeting drug traffickers while driving north on Interstate 5 near Camp Pendleton. He was piloting a car allegedly containing 44 pounds of methamphetamine in a hidden compartment, U-T San Diego reported.

His attorney, Janice Deaton, told the newspaper Vazquez was initially pulled over for speeding and was cooperative when deputies asked to search his car.

Vazquez was booked into the Vista Detention Facility on felony counts of possession of a controlled substance for sale and transportation of a controlled substance, according to jail records.

Vazquez was placed on an immigration hold and a trial has been set for 8:15 a.m. Oct. 17 in San Diego Superior Court, according to jail records.

His friends believed Vazquez was either tricked or forced to become the unknowing "blind mule" driver of the drug-laden vehicle, U-T San Diego reported. Prior to his arrest, Vazquez told family members he was called on to give voice lessons near Oceanside but was unsure of the details, the newspaper reported.

Vazquez frequently crossed the border to teach classes or perform, Mario Montenegro, the director of Opera Ambulante, told U-T San Diego.

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