Major Drug Ring Dismantled in Seattle and Tacoma
A two year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Seattle Police Department has resulted in more than 90 arrests and the seizure of multiple pound quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. The initial investigation dubbed “Dry Ice,” dismantled a drug dealing organization that brought drugs in from Mexico and distributed them in Seattle, Tacoma and Yakima. A federal grand jury in Seattle indicted 20 people in connection with the drug conspiracy on June 7, 2006. In the early morning hours of June 8, officers from dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies arrested 14 of the indicted defendants. In addition, 52 other people were arrested on federal, state or immigration charges. Six more defendants will make their initial appearances in federal court in Seattle today.
“The arrests and indictments in these operations have removed key players in the drug trade in our area,” said U.S. Attorney John McKay. “Members of these drug organizations were heavily armed, and dealing in large quantities of drugs and cash. During the raids yesterday alone, agents seized more than four pounds of heroin, six kilos of cocaine, two pounds of meth, eight guns and $300,000 in cash.”
The “Dry Ice” investigation is linked to two other investigations. In a case dubbed “Operation Garage Sale,” twenty-two people were arrested in Tacoma in early June. In connection with those arrests, agents seized five pounds of methamphetamine, five pounds of heroin, six kilograms of cocaine, seven guns, eight cars and $200,000 cash. Some of the cars had special hidden compartments for transporting drugs. One of those charged in connection with this case was allegedly dealing drugs from his Kalama area mobile home while on electronic home monitoring due to a pending federal drug case in Nebraska. The investigation took its name from the allegation that one of the lead defendants sold drugs from his garage. Ten of the suspects face federal charges in Tacoma for conspiracy to distribute drugs, distribution of methamphetamine, distribution of cocaine, and distribution of heroin.
The other investigation that is linked to “Dry Ice” was dubbed “Snow Dog.” In late May three people were arrested in connection with that case. Agents seized more than 25 kilos of cocaine, three pounds of highly pure “ice” methamphetamine, four guns and $435,000 in cash. The government is also seeking the forfeiture of three residences worth an estimated $1.1 million, two Mercedes-Benz Automobiles, a Bentley Rolls-Royce and a Cadillac Escalade. This investigation was dubbed “Snow Dog” because of the large quantities of cocaine.
Finally, as part of the “Dry Ice” investigation a second group of defendants were indicted. This group identified itself as the “Americanos.” These defendants were involved in obtaining and distributing heroin from the main target in the “Dry Ice” probe. These defendants were recorded making frequent calls to the leaders of the drug ring to obtain heroin, much of which was dealt on the streets of Seattle. Eight of ten people indicted in this case have been arrested. Many of these defendants had drugs, cash and drug paraphernalia at the time of their arrests.
DEA Special Agent in Charge, Rod Benson, said, "when this case began we had no idea that this investigation would lead us to such a large organization. As we peeled back the layers of this drug trafficking group we identified, and ultimately dismantled, the leadership, financiers, transporters and distribution cells operating in and around the Puget Sound region. The removal of this organization will have a positive impact on our communities."
An indictment contains allegations that have not yet been proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt. Fourteen defendants in the “Dry Ice” case made their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Seattle yesterday. They are being detained pending a hearing on their continued detention next week. Defendants in the other cases have made their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The cases were investigated by DEA and the Seattle Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Tacoma Police Department, Puyallup Police Department, Bonney Lake Police Department, Auburn Police Department, Department of Corrections, Port of Seattle Police and the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force. Numerous other law enforcement agencies, from Snohomish County to Thurston County, assisted in the investigation.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Todd Greenberg, Vince Lombardi, Matthew Thomas and Lisca Borichewski.
For additional information please contact Jeff Eig, Public Information Officer for DEA at (206) 553-1411, or Emily Langlie, Public Information Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office at (206) 553-4110.