Law enforcement agencies arrested more than 35 people for drug and gun crimes on Wednesday across the Puget Sound region, including Kent, Auburn, Des Moines, Tukwila and Renton.
About 500 officers raided 45 locations in King, Pierce, Skagit, Thurston and Snohomish counties during a major drug ring takedown, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office press release.
The arrests are the fourth takedown in a series of cases aimed at reducing drug and gang violence in Seattle, South King and North Pierce counties. Those taken into custody will appear Wednesday afternoon at U.S. District Court in Seattle.
“Over the last four months, more than 80 drug dealing conspirators moving meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl have been taken off our streets where they preyed on destructive addictions and used gun crime to further their trade,” said U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes said in the press release. “For more than a year, local police worked with federal partners to build these cases, with the goal of addressing the shifting crime problems in South Sound communities.”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed U.S. Attorneys to deploy their resources to identify and address ‘hot spots’ of violent crime. Working with local law enforcement across the South Sound, federal law enforcement identified Seattle, the Rainier and Kent valleys and North Pierce County as an area of concern for drug and gun crime.
The first takedown involved five defendants trafficking crack cocaine in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood; the second, in March resulted in 20 arrests of heroin and meth traffickers operating primarily in South King County and the Tacoma area; and in May, a third takedown dismantled two criminal groups trafficking methamphetamine in South King County.
“DEA is in a race to save lives,” said Keith Weis the Special Agent in Charge for the Pacific Northwest. “These strategic operations have stopped some of the most violent criminal groups operating throughout the Puget Sound Region from pushing dangerous drugs onto our communities most vulnerable members facing life or death struggles against addiction.”
“The FBI is committed to holding violent gang members accountable for their actions,” said Special Agent in Charge Jay S. Tabb Jr., of the FBI’s Seattle Field Office. “The level of violence committed by these individuals has been detrimental to the South Sound community for years. Today’s arrests mark a major step toward addressing this problem.”
According to records filed in the case, conspirators trafficked cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, illegal marijuana and fentanyl. Associates of some of the traffickers arrested Wednesday were shot and some killed in various shooting incidents in both Seattle and South King County. On the wiretap law enforcement heard conspirators talk about various shootings after they occurred, including the Sept. 4, 2017 shooting outside a Renton hookah lounge. Among other things, conspirators discussed getting firearms after being shot at by rival gangs.
Taken together, these four operations resulted in the seizure of 75 guns, more than 95 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 32 pounds of heroin, more than 7 pounds of cocaine (both crack and powder) as well as ecstasy and fentanyl. More than $327,000 in cash and 22 vehicles also were seized.
In addition, on Wednesday alone law enforcement seized 12 pounds of heroin, more than 2 kilos of cocaine, a pound of methamphetamine, 124 pounds of marijuana, 41 firearms and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.
The defendants in these cases face a variety of drug and gun charges. The penalties range from five years in prison to a maximum of life in prison depending on the pertinent charge.
The searches and arrests involved agents and officers from:
DEA, FBI, ATF, Seattle Police, Auburn Police Department, Bellevue Police Department, Bothell Police Department, Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Des Moines Police Department, Everett Police Department, Fife Police Department, Kent Police Department, King County Sheriff’s Office, Kirkland Police Department, Lakewood Police Department, Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Marysville Police Department, Monroe Police Department, Mount Vernon Police Department, Mukilteo Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Renton Police Department, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, Snohomish County Drug and Gang Task Force, Tacoma Police Department, Thurston County Narcotics Task Force, Tukwila Police Department, U.S Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Washington Department of Corrections, Washington State Patrol, and the Yakima Police Department, and the following regional SWAT teams, SPD SWAT, Valley SWAT, North Sound Metro SWAT, Region 1 SWAT, Pierce County Metro SWAT, King County Sheriff’s Office TAC-30, Washington State Patrol SWAT, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office SWAT and Bellevue SWAT.