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Portland-Vancouver area drug raids net 20 arrests, 22 pounds of meth

Twenty people were arrested in raids Wednesday across the Portland-Vancouver area as part of a vast crackdown on drug trafficking and money laundering.

Local authorities combined to raid 13 locations, seizing 22 pounds of methamphetamine, four ounces of heroin, 11 ounces of cocaine and seven firearms, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland. The latest arrests come after 10 previous ones.

Additionally, an indictment was unsealed Wednesday that charges 41 people on 60 counts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. At its peak, the network allegedly brought more than 130 pounds of methamphetamine and heroin to the area each week.

Beginning in November, Samuel Diaz and Faustino Monroy started the operation, according to the news release. Diaz and Monroy, who remain at large and are believed to be in Mexico, allegedly worked with two Portland-based associates: Edgar Omar Quiroz Rodriguez and Gerson Fernando Martinez-Cruz.

At its peak, the Portland group distributed as much as 77 pounds of methamphetamine and 55 pounds of heroin every week, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The drugs allegedly came from numerous supply sources and were taken to stash houses, where they were processed and prepared for sale and distributed by various dealers. To avoid detection, members of the organization would allegedly routinely change stash locations, rotate vehicles and phones and pay individual couriers to take time off.

Organization members obtained rifles and handguns in the U.S. and attempted to transport them to associates in Mexico, according to the news release. Prior to Wednesday, investigators had seized 44 firearms, including assault rifles, shotguns and handguns.

The organization used a Southeast Portland mini market — Gonzalez Bros. Market — as a front to launder their proceeds via international electronic money wires, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Wires were allegedly structured using low-denomination transfers to avoid suspicion.

The Gresham, Ore., Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI investigated the case, according to the release. Other federal, state and local agencies, including the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, participated in the case.

“The ability to collaborate with other departments was instrumental in the resolution of this case,” Gresham Police Chief Robin Sells said. “As a result of the hard work between these agencies, arrests were made and literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in narcotics are off the streets.”


Source: https://www.columbian.com

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