Law authorities on Thursday arrested 13 people in Mendocino County on drug and conspiracy charges and took into protective custody seven children.

They seized 200 pounds of marijuana, 5 pounds of methamphetamine and about $13,000 during searches of the suspects' homes in Ukiah and Laytonville, said Bob Nishiyama, head of the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force.

The suspected ringleader is Felix Valdovinos-Ayala, 23, who was living with his two children and wife in a motel that had been turned into an apartment complex on south State Street in Ukiah, he said. Several other suspects also lived in the complex.

All of the suspects arrested Thursday are citizens of Mexico, Nishiyama said.

Nishiyama believes there are more than 13 people involved in the drug operations.

"I think it's part of a bigger conspiracy," Nishiyama said, noting the suspects' living conditions belied the value of the drugs and money they possessed.

"They were living in hovels," he said.

At about $15,000 a pound, the methamphetamine was worth roughly $75,000. Marijuana can sell for more than $2,000 a pound, Nishiyama said.

The case began with an undercover state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement operation in Yolo County, he said.

One of the Mendocino County suspects attempted to sell drugs to an uncover officer, Nishiyama said.

The suspects are being held in the Mendocino County jail, he said.

— Glenda Anderson, The Press Democrat