The largest drug takedown operation in Washington state's Puget Sound has netted more than 80 drug dealers, U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes said Wednesday.
The operation spanned more than a year and was conducted in four different busts across King, Pierce, Snohomish, Skagit and Thurston counties, KTLA sister station KCPQ in Seattle reported Wednesday.
Taken together, these four operations resulted in the seizure of 75 guns, more than 95 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 32 pounds of heroin, more than 7 pounds of cocaine (both crack and powder) as well as ecstasy and fentanyl. More than $327,000 in cash and 22 vehicles also were seized.
“Over the last four months, more than 80 drug dealing conspirators moving meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl have been taken off our streets where they preyed on destructive addictions and used gun crime to further their trade,” said Hayes.
From Wednesday's bust alone, law enforcement seized 12 pounds of heroin, more than 2 kilos of cocaine, a pound of methamphetamine, 124 pounds of marijuana, 41 firearms and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. Officers also arrested 35 alleged members of a drug trafficking ring.
The takedown comes on the heels of three other law enforcement efforts involving wiretaps and surveillance to dismantle sophisticated drug trafficking rings linked to violence.
The first takedown involved five defendants trafficking crack cocaine in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood.
The second, in March resulted in 20 arrests of heroin and meth traffickers operating primarily in South King County and the Tacoma area.
And in May, a third takedown dismantled two criminal groups trafficking methamphetamine in south King .
"DEA is in a race to save lives,” said Keith Weis the special agent in charge for the Pacific Northwest. “These strategic operations have stopped some of the most violent criminal groups operating throughout the Puget Sound Region from pushing dangerous drugs onto our communities most vulnerable members facing life or death struggles against addiction.”
According to records filed in the case, conspirators trafficked cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, illegal marijuana and fentanyl.
Associates of some of the traffickers arrested Wednesday were shot and some killed in various incidents in both Seattle and south King County. On the wiretap, law enforcement heard conspirators talk about various shootings after they occurred, including the September 4, 2017 shooting outside a Renton hookah lounge.
Among other things, conspirators discussed getting firearms after being shot at by rival gangs.
The penalties range from five years in prison to a maximum of life in prison depending on the charges.