By: Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
A 31-year-old and a 32-year-old man from Mountlake Terrace are among a dozen people arrested Wednesday, August 5 for involvement in a North Sound drug trafficking organization.
The Mountlake Terrace men are two of 12 members of a drug trafficking group indicted for distributing fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine throughout the Puget Sound. The group engaged in trafficking activities from Mexico, through California and Oregon, and into the North Puget Sound region, stated the U.S. Department of Justice in a news release.
On August 5, law enforcement seized nearly six pounds of methamphetamine, eight pounds of heroin, 7,500 pills with probable contamination of fentanyl, over $100,000 in cash, four firearms and vehicles outfitted with hiding places intended for smuggling drugs and cash.
“During the course of this investigation agents seized more than 20,000 pills pressed to look like oxycodone, but actually tainted with fentanyl,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran. “I have had heartbreaking conversations with the parents of young people who died from fentanyl overdoses linked to counterfeit pills. We are making it a priority to get these deadly drugs off the streets.”
Throughout the investigation, law enforcement additionally seized over six pounds of heroin and approximately nine pounds of methamphetamine. Some of the drugs were smuggled through the hidden compartments in the vehicles’ seats confirmed the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The arrests followed a year-long investigation and two grand jury indictments, leading prosecutors to file charges against the suspects. The 32-year-old man is charged with the possession of heroin with the intent to distribute and the conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. The 31-year-old man is charged with the possession of fentanyl with the intent to distribute.
Beginning at a time unknown within the past five years, the 32-year-old man and others “did knowingly and intentionally conspire to distribute at least 400 grams” of a mixture of heroin and fentanyl throughout King County and elsewhere up until July 29, asserted the Grand Jury in documents filed in the U.S. District Court. Then, on January 15, he and two others knowingly and intentionally possessed one kilogram of heroin with an intent to distribute, said the jury.
The Grand Jury in the U.S. District Court in Seattle charged the 31-year-old man and five others with the conspiracy to distribute and/or the distribution of drugs on December 31 of last year, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court in Seattle.
The year-long investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations, Shoreline Police Department, King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), Seattle Police Department and the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force (SRDTF). The investigation was supported by the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
“While most Puget Sound residents have been in ‘lockdown’ status because of the pandemic, our investigators and prosecutors continued pursuing those endangering our communities with indiscriminate sales of fentanyl tainted pills, heroin and methamphetamine,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis. “The tough job of removing this criminal organization was accomplished through the sheer determination and dedication to our community’s safety by our law enforcement professionals.”
Others arrested as part of the North Sound drug trafficking organization include residents of Seattle, Burien, Bellingham, Bellevue, Kent and cities in Oregon and California. The indictments charge a range of drug trafficking crimes. If found guilty, some of the defendants face potential mandatory minimum 10-year sentences. All arrested will appear August 5 and 6 in the U.S. District Court in Seattle.