A 33-year-old Kirkland man was among 20 people arrested and charged for drug trafficking Wednesday as part of coordinated raids by the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement agencies in the Seattle and San Francisco Bay area.
The arrests followed a lengthy investigation into a cocaine, meth and heroin trafficking ring that stretched from San Francisco to Vancouver, British Columbia, said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan in a U.S. Department of Justice media release.
The 20 people were arrested and charged for various federal crimes, including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and/or conspiracy to engage in money laundering. Authorities identified the Kirkland man as Mario Gamiz-Yescas.
The investigation, which utilized court-authorized wire taps, revealed how the conspirators allegedly brought multi-kilo loads of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine into the Seattle area from California, and distributed it in Western Washington, or sent it north into Canada.
Most of the defendants taken into custody Wednesday were scheduled to make their initial appearance on the charges Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Search warrants were executed Wednesday on 18 residences or businesses and multiple vehicles. Law enforcement seized 24 pounds of methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine and $35,000 in cash.
Over the course of the DEA and Seattle Police Department investigation, law enforcement seized more than $700,000 in cash, 11 kilos of cocaine, 40 pounds of methamphetamine, and four firearms.
“Organizations that think we cannot track their crimes across borders are wrong,” Durkan said. “We will use all of our tools to shut down their operations and seize their profits. I commend the tremendous collaboration by federal, state and local law enforcement in disrupting this drug ring.”
Matthew G. Barnes, DEA special agent in charge, described one of the busts.
“Over 24 pounds of methamphetamine was seized from one vehicle in this investigation, which has an estimated street value of over $1 million,” Barnes said. “This investigation illustrates the defendants’ ill-will and disregard for our community. I want to commend the professionalism and commitment of the Seattle Police Department and the other agencies involved.”
Seattle Police Chief John Diaz praised the coordinated work of multiple agencies.
“Working together with our federal law enforcement partners in the DEA and other local agencies, we were able to intercept a significant amount of dangerous drugs before they hit Seattle streets,” Diaz said in the media release. “It is noteworthy that this operation was made possible due to information obtained during a routine ‘buy-bust’ conducted by Seattle Police officers and detectives. This is another example of how ordinary police work combined with law enforcement partnerships can yield exceptional results.”
The raids were part of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.
In addition to DEA and the Seattle Police Department, the following agencies provided substantial assistance:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Marshals Service, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Eastside Narcotics Task Force, King County Sheriff’s Office, Kirkland Police Department, Lynnwood Police Department, Monroe Police Department, Skagit County Sheriff’s Office, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force, South Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force and Washington Department of Corrections.
Those charged include:
Jose Rodriguez-Rivera, 38, Lynnwood
Juan Siquiero-Gonzalez, 33, Federal Way
Luis Orozco-Lopez, 21, Sedro-Woolley
Uriel Amin Martinez-Botello, 31, Everett
Hugo Gomez-Barrada, 29, Seattle
Lorenzo Rodriguez-Rivera, 35, Mountlake Terrace
Elmer Alvarez-Ochoa, 39, Lynnwood
Ramon Barrera, 35, Mountlake Terrace
Pedro Lopez, 38, Seattle
Jose Rodriquez-Lujan, 36, Kent
Mario Gamiz-Yescas, 33, Kirkland
Gerson Fletes-Ramos, 30, Shoreline
Dagoberto Herrera-Avila, 37, Sea-Tac
Javier Cabrera-Arteaga, 26, Shoreline
Manuel Mejia-Garay, 32, Seattle
Enrique Munoz-Andres, 32, Pacific
Juan Gomez-Diaz, 37, Des Moines
Timothy Rishor, 36, Edmonds
Joshua Abellera, 37, Shoreline
Mayra Mendez-Rodriguez, 28, Mountlake Terrace