Drug sting nets 25 arrests

By Paula Horton, Herald staff writer July 23, 2011 

A large methamphetamine and cocaine drug trafficking organization was taken down with arrests of 25 suspects in Pasco, Connell, Moses Lake and other Eastern Washington cities, officials said.

The arrests, made early Thursday when 24 federal search warrants were served at multiple locations, were announced Friday by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"The 25 defendants arrested today will reap no reward for their illegal actions other than to face the justice they deserve," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes in a news release.

The suspects made initial appearances Friday in federal court in Spokane.

The suspects were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane with conspiracy to distribute meth and cocaine, distribution of meth and possession with intent to distribute meth.

The alleged drug crimes occurred between January 2010 and July 2011, court documents said.

The following 20 names are listed on the indictment: Flavio Ramos-Chaidez, Hilario Garcia-Moreno Jr., Jazmin Acosta-Beltran, Cruz Mendoza, Israel Benjamin Wright, Jacqueline Ramos, Alex Villanueva-Garcia, Luis Cerna, Felix Ruben Rodriguez, Cody Lee Poole, Cruz Rangel, Caleb Vanden Dormaier, Nelson Perez, Gabriel Santiago Medina, Dusty Blue Zarate, Heath Wisdom, Sandra Duffy, Jesus Enrique Meza-Valdez, Jayro Alvarez-Farias and Elizabeth Arroyo-Toro.

The names of the five others arrested were not known, and hometowns and ages of the suspects were not available.

Hundreds of federal agents, and state and local officers raided 24 homes searching for the suspects in Moses Lake, Pasco, Connell, Royal City, Spokane, Othello, Desert Aire and Cheney, officials said.

Two homes in Moses Lake, at 824 N. Vista Drive and 4321 Longview St. N.E., apparently are connected to the suspects, documents said.

"This is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when agencies work in partnership," said Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste. "This investigation will make a significant impact on drug trafficking throughout the state. I am very proud of the men and women whose dedication has culminated in the results we see today."

This was an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation, which provided federal funding to federal and state agencies involved, DEA officials said.

The case was investigated by the DEA, Washington State Patrol and Spokane Regional Drug Task Force.

Other agencies that assisted were the Quad Cities Drug Task Force, Integrated Narcotics Enforcement Team, North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force, Spokane police and sheriff's offices, Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. marshals, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, FBI and the U.S. Border Patrol.

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