Officers arrest 12 people in South Sound drug trafficking raids

Bust includes three Kent men; search of four Kent homes

Three Kent men were among the dozen people arrested Tuesday as more than 150 law enforcement officers and agents fanned out across the Puget Sound region to dismantle two drug trafficking organizations.

Officers searched a dozen homes (four in Kent) and multiple vehicles in connection with the two rings, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release. Officers seized 22 pounds of meth, one pound of heroin, $48,000 cash and more than 40 firearms.

A dozen people are in custody, arrested on two different grand jury indictments charging trafficking of both methamphetamine and heroin. The arrests follow two wire-tap investigations and grew out of an earlier investigation that resulted in more than 20 arrests in March. The defendants will make their initial appearances in U.S. District Court Tuesday afternoon in Tacoma.

“Once again, federal, state and local law enforcement partners have come together to address the drug and gun crime plaguing communities in the South Sound,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes in the news release. “The two groups arrested today have been charged with serious crimes involving methamphetamine, heroin and guns.”

As part of the investigation prior to Tuesday’s raids, officers seized more than 65 pounds of meth from one of the drug organizations during traffic stops along the Interstate 5 corridor. In March 2017, law enforcement stopped a car with 25 pounds of meth. In three other stops in January and August of 2017 and in March of 2018, officers seized as much as 14 pounds of meth from hidden compartments in “load cars.”

“These highly coordinated operations are purposely designed to disrupt the controlling elements who are responsible for importing dangerous amounts of methamphetamine and heroin into Western Washington,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith R. Weis.

Law enforcement searched five homes – two in Federal Way and one each in Auburn, Des Moines and Kent – in connection with the reported drug trafficking arrests of four people.

They are: Jaime Astorga Vega, 31, of Federal Way; Jose Alvarez Sanchez, 25, of Kent; Javier Garcia Rodriguez, 34, of Auburn; and Yajaira Andrade Diaz, 30, of Des Moines.

In the second indictment, eight people are charged for allegedly trafficking both methamphetamine and heroin.

They are: Prisciliano Pascacio Pacheco, 28, of Kent; Danny Avila, 28, of Enumclaw; Jeffrey A. Anonson, 47, of Kent; Margarito Torres Valdovinos, 24, of Seattle; Frederick Clayton Bailey, 63, of Ravensdale; Alicia Lee Robertson, 43 of Lakewood; Trinidad Ramirez Ramirez, 27, of Black Diamond; and Ismael Garcia Valenzuela, 24, of Thermal, Calif.

In connection with the second group, law enforcement searched three homes in Kent, as well as homes in Marysville, Seattle, Enumclaw and Lakewood.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.

DEA Tacoma, the Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement Team (TNET), and the Kent Police Department conducted the investigation with significant assistance from the Auburn and Bonney Lake police departments. TNET is comprised of agents and officers from DEA, Washington State Department of Corrections, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and the Auburn, Tacoma, Puyallup, Bonney Lake and Lakewood police departments.

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