CRIME BLOTTER

Long Washington probe yields 84,000 fentanyl pills, hundreds of pounds of drugs

Jun 18, 2024, 4:54 PM | Updated: 4:55 pm

Image: Drugs, guns and money were seized as part of a large investigation led by the DEA and the Se...

Drugs, guns and money were seized as part of a large investigation led by the DEA and the Seattle Police Department, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington)

(Photo courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington)

Four Seattle-area men with ties to Central and South America have been arrested as part of a lengthy probe that led to a significant amount of drugs, according to the United States’ Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington.

Over the course of the investigation, which the U.S. Attorney’s Office said was a year long, law enforcement agencies seized 84,000 fentanyl pills, more than a kilogram of fentanyl powder (over 2.2 pounds), 32 kilograms of cocaine (more than 70.5 pounds), 15 kilograms of methamphetamine (about 33 pounds) nearly three kilograms of heroin (about 6.5 pounds), nine firearms and $71,000 in cash.

On the day of their arrest last week, they recovered nine guns, including an AK-47, 2.5 kilograms of cocaine (around 5.5 pounds), and a pound of methamphetamine.

“Our team identified the local distributers, the Sinaloa Cartel members who coordinated the drug shipments, the Columbian cocaine producers, as well as the money launderers who funneled the money back into the hands of the Sinaloa Cartel,” Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Seattle Field Division David F. Reames said at a news conference Tuesday.

Law enforcement teams from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Seattle Police Department (SPD) and IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS CI) executed 24 search or arrest warrants taking four people into custody who are allegedly connected to a drug trafficking conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman announced in a press statement earlier this month.

“Whenever possible, we try to trace both the origin of drugs and the money going back to those who supply the drugs,” Gorman said in the release. “We want to ensure that those who would poison our communities – by trafficking drugs from afar – are held accountable for their actions in the United States.”

Another recent drug case: Auburn man arrested, charged for possessing 135 pounds of MDMA, more

The four people with ties to Western Washington arrested were Ramon Duarte Garcia, a 37-year-old citizen of Mexico living in Kent; Curtis McDaniel, a 55-year-old U.S. citizen living in Tukwila; Manuel Garcia Hernandez, a 39-year-old citizen of Mexico living in Renton and Humberto Lopez Rodriguez, a 30-year-old citizen of Mexico who used to live in Renton and is now in a federal prison in Southern California.

Contributions from multiple law enforcement agencies

The drug conspirators have ties to suppliers in Mexico and Colombia and law enforcement agencies in those countries are assisting with the investigation.

Additional assistance was provided by multiple Washington law enforcement agencies, including the Renton and Centralia police departments and the Washington State Patrol, but the investigation is being led by the DEA and the SPD.

“This operation is a fantastic example of collaborative police work between Seattle PD, the DEA, the IRS, and the Colombian National Police,” Seattle Interim Police Chief Sue Rahr said, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s statement. “This case highlights how Seattle PD will work tirelessly with its law enforcement partners domestically and internationally to make our community safer.”

More from the crime blotter: Multiple weekend Seattle shootings leave 1 dead, 3 injured

While noting the threat this amount of various drugs has to a community, Reames also called out the collaboration between multiple agencies.

“This cooperative effort is a win for the good guys and a tremendous example of the truly international cooperation needed to tackle this immense threat,” Reames said in the earlier statement.

Editors’ note: This story originally was published Tuesday, June 11, 2024. It has been updated and republished since then.

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, or email him here.

Steve Coogan is the lead editor of MyNorthwest. You can read more of his stories here. Follow Steve on X, or email him here.

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Long Washington probe yields 84,000 fentanyl pills, hundreds of pounds of drugs