News and Press Releases

Organized Criminal Ring Allegedly Dealing Highly Pure Meth and Heroin

August 14, 2007

Eight people were arrested, and about a pound each of suspected methamphetamine and heroin, and undetermined quantities of cash, were seized in early morning raids today in Vancouver, Washington. The arrests come following a two year investigation of drug trafficking dubbed “Operation Methopotamia.” Two dozen people have already been charged in state or federal court in connection with the investigation. Four of the defendants arrested today have been indicted by a federal grand jury for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Heroin. All four will make their initial appearances this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

AUGUSTINE BUSTOS-CHAVEZ, 23, of Vancouver, Washington is described in court papers as a mid-level dealer of highly pure methamphetamine (Ice) and heroin being brought up to Washington and Oregon from Mexico. BUSTOS-CHAVEZ conspired with three other defendants, SERGIO PEREZ-HERNANDEZ, 32, CARLOS PINEDA-NUNEZ, 23, and JESUS ANTONIO VILLA-ANAYA, 33, to deliver the drugs to users throughout the greater Vancouver, Washington area. Over the course of the investigation agents and officers witnessed the defendants making drug deliveries to residences or cars in the parking lots of grocery stores, video stores and hardware stores. Investigators used confidential informants to make drug purchases, and examined phone records showing tens of thousands of short calls coming in to the cell phones of the dealers. That type of calling pattern is indicative of drug dealing, with users calling suppliers for their “fix.” All four of these defendants are in the U.S. illegally and, if convicted, will be deported following their prison terms.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

These latest arrests follow multiple earlier indictments and guilty pleas in connection with this investigation. Sanbino Garcia-Quiroz a/k/a Otoniel Rodriguez-Mercado was sentenced to 151 months in prison Jose Angel Lopez-Aguilar was sentenced to 135 months in prison for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine. Jose Vazquez-Lopez, was sentenced to 63 months in prison for Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute. Those three defendants were responsible for eight pounds of methamphetamine seized in the investigation. All three men will be deported following their prison terms. To date, fourteen people have been charged federally in connection with “Operation Methopotamia.”

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 conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Clark Skamania Drug Task Force (CSDTF), the Vancouver Police Department, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol.

The indictments are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney’s Sarah Vogel and Matthew Thomas.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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