A 32-year-old Renton man and a Kent man were among 14 people arrested Tuesday as part of a third major drug ring takedown in the last six weeks by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Those arrested reportedly distributed fentanyl, meth and heroin in Seattle and North Puget Sound communities, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release. They discussed or conducted their drug deals in a wide variety of locations, such as a Mexican restaurant in Kent, a bank parking lot at the Northgate shopping mall and a 7-Eleven in Snohomish County. The members of the drug distribution ring were frequently armed – one was pulled over after waving a firearm at another vehicle on I-5 North near Bellingham.
“With this third law enforcement takedown in six weeks, we continue to root out those who seek to poison our communities with fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine,” said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran in the news release. “Despite the challenges of tracking criminal activity during a pandemic, the dedicated men and woman of law enforcement continue to investigate and interdict drug shipments while building legal cases against these defendants.”
The arrests, part of what law authorities called Operation Lockdown, come on the heels of two other major drug takedowns: On Aug. 5, law enforcement rolled up a drug trafficking ring that distributed large amounts of fentanyl, heroin and meth in the Seattle area and North Puget Sound region. During that investigation law enforcement seized more than 14 pounds of heroin and 15 pounds of methamphetamine.
On July 28, law enforcement arrested 13 people named in an indictment for drug trafficking connected to the violent CJNG Mexican cartel. Much of the drug trafficking activity in that case was in the South Sound region, including the Kitsap Peninsula. More than 100 pounds of meth were seized in that investigation, and law enforcement had to intervene at times when they heard threats being made over the wire to enforce cartel rules with violence.
“With today’s (Tuesday) operation we have surpassed 60 arrests of members of highly organized transnational groups with tentacles reaching from Mexico to Puget Sound,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis. “They profit by pushing extremely dangerous narcotics such as methamphetamines, heroin and the worst of the worst – fentanyl. With our partners, even before today’s action, we took over 300 pounds of methamphetamine, 55 pounds of heroin, 41,200 fentanyl pills, 30 firearms; and more than $1.3 million in drug trafficker assets off the streets. The dealers of these drugs are responsible for increasing levels of violence, addiction and overdose deaths in our communities.”
Prior to the most recent arrests, law enforcement seized more than 8,000 pills tainted with suspected fentanyl, 22 pounds of heroin, 70 pounds of methamphetamine, one kilo of cocaine, two firearms and approximately $500,000 cash in drug proceeds. On Tuesday, law enforcement seized: 36 pounds of heroin, 1,600 suspected fentanyl pills, a pound of methamphetamine and seven firearms.
Others arrested on Tuesday were from Lynnwood, Marysville, Edmonds, Everett, SeaTac and Bellevue.
Due to the amount of narcotics involved in this case, some defendants, if found guilty, face a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force, Seattle Police Department, FBI and the Skagit Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit.
In addition, to the agencies listed above, these law enforcement agencies assisted with arrests and search warrants executed Tuesday:
Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, Everett Police Department, Marysville Police Department, Skagit County Sheriff’s Office, Valley SWAT, Region 1 SWAT, North Sound Metro SWAT, Olympic Peninsula Narcotic Enforcement Team, Washington State Patrol, King County Sheriff’s Office, Auburn Police Department, Kent Police Department, Federal Way Police Department, Shoreline Police Department, Renton Police Department, Bothell Police Department, Lake Stevens Police Department, Mountlake Terrace Police Department, Arlington Police Department, Snoqualmie/North Bend Police Department, Burien Police Department, Tacoma Police Department, DEA Special Response Team, Homeland Security Investigations, United States Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.