Snow and freezing rain didn't stop federal and local law enforcement officers from conducting a coordinated gang sweep in the Tri-Cities, Walla Walla and Spokane early Thursday.
Four Tri-City men and two Walla Walla men were among 25 suspects picked up on federal drug or gun charges stemming from a months-long investigation led by the Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team.
More than eight pounds of methamphetamine, 40 guns, one grenade, 10 vehicles and about $150,000 in cash were seized during the searches, Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said in a news release.
Search warrants were served in Kennewick, Prosser, Walla Walla and the Spokane area. Two areas in Oregon, Milton-Freewater and Weston, also had locations that were raided, officials said.
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Those arrested were charged in federal court with numerous counts of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and other drugs, and some were charged as convicted felons in possession of guns, Ormbsy said.
"As we all know, across this country and in Eastern Washington, violent gang culture has become part of the daily lives of teachers and taxi drivers, police officers and pastors, parents and children," said Laura M. Laughlin, FBI special agent-in-charge. "The siren song of gang life lulls too many of our youth into lives of crime, drugs and violence."
Kennewick and Prosser police departments, the Benton County Sheriff's Office, along with the Tri-City Regional SWAT team, Tri-Cities Metro Drug Task Force and Tri-Cities Violent Gang Task Force were among the local agencies who participated in the early-morning sweep.
In Walla Walla, the police department and sheriff's office also participated, along with the Umatilla County sheriff's office.
Thursday's operation was made possible by federal authorities working with state and local agencies to investigate and dismantle gang-related and other violent crime enterprises, Ormsby said.
"Without a close, daily working relationship among our local, state and federal authorities, such a cohesive, effective effort to staunch an expanding wave of organized criminal activity would be impossible," he said.
The indictments were filed Dec. 20 and unsealed Thursday after the numerous arrests, which include: William Childs, 40, Donald Cummings, 55, and Amador Sanchez, 31, all of Kennewick; Edgar Lizarraga-Felix, 28, of Pasco, and Christopher Brotherton, 32, and Keith Hall, 42, both of Walla Walla.