Federal, state and local law enforcement fanned-out throughout the Puget Sound region Wednesday, arresting 17 people – two from Auburn, another from Pacific – in connection with multiple counts of drug trafficking, U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said.
The drug trafficking organization brought large loads of heroin and methamphetamine into the Seattle area – in one instance law enforcement seized 33 pounds of meth and 14 pounds of heroin.
“Federal law enforcement continues to target those who seek to poison our communities and to line their pockets on the misery of others,” Moran said. “I commend the men and women of law enforcement who put their lives on the line to stem those who traffic in violence, addiction and death.”
“At the height of the opioid epidemic, the Pacific Northwest is also drowning in methamphetamine,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis. “Today’s enforcement operation is another example of the focused effort by law enforcement against those transnational distribution cells most responsible for opening the floodgates.” He further added, “In the last year, DEA working with other federal, state and local law enforcement, have seized 3,400 pounds of methamphetamine, representing a record amount for the region.”
The investigation into this criminal group began in September 2018, and utilized undercover purchases as well as various types of surveillance.
Of those arrested, fourteen are indicted for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Various individuals are indicted for specific instances of distributing methamphetamine, heroin or both. Three additional people were arrested and one of those people is charged by criminal complaint following today’s searches. Those indicted by the grand jury include:
Fernando Bautista-Sanchez, 43, Auburn
Angela Davina Encinas, 38, Auburn
Norberto Flores-Lopez, 22, Pacific
Daniel Hernandez-Hernandez, 35, Seattle
Doriam German Moreno-Rocha, 29, SeaTac
Adrian Alberto Sanchez-Esparza, 30, Madera, Calif.
Faustino Islas-Estrada, 52, SeaTac
Omar Salazar, 32, Federal Way
Manuela Gabriele Zahn, 56, Olympia
Adam Mark Bishop, 35, Tacoma
Mitchell Eugene Vaughan, 33, Puyallup
Ryan Lee Isaksen, 28, Spanaway
Karissa Jean Mason, 36, Seattle
Anthony Jacques McKinney, 38, Lakewood
Luis Manuel Rivera-Leriget, 44, San Diego
Karina Rodriguez, 39, Newman, Calif.
During Wednesday’s arrest operation law enforcement seized 4.5 pounds of meth and 13 pounds of heroin, $10,000 cash and six firearms. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized 37.5 pounds of methamphetamine and 27 pounds of heroin.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.
The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Tacoma Resident Office, the Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement Team (TNET) and the Burien Police Department (BPD) Street Team. TNET is comprised of the Tacoma, Lakewood, Auburn, Bonney Lake, and Puyallup Police Departments, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC). Other assisting agencies include the Kent Police Department and the King County Sheriff’s Office SeaTac Police Department Street Team. The investigation was supported by North West High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA).
In addition to the agencies listed above, these law enforcement agencies assisted with the arrests and search warrants executed today: King County SWAT, Valley SWAT, Pierce County SWAT, Washington State Patrol SWAT, Lakewood Police Tactical Team, Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team (VNET), Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team (VNET), West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team (WestNet), Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office, Hoquiam Police Department and Aberdeen Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew Colasurdo and Marci Ellsworth.