Three from Lynnwood, two from Edmonds among 14 arrested in connection with Western Washington drug cartel

Three suspects from Lynnwood and two from Edmonds were among 14 arrested Tuesday for alleged drug trafficking in Western Washington following three wiretap investigations,  U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran and DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis announced.

Those arrested were scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle Tuesday afternoon.

“With this third law enforcement takedown in six weeks, we continue to root out those who seek to poison our communities with fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine,” Moran said.  “Despite the challenges of tracking criminal activity during a pandemic, the dedicated men and woman of law enforcement continue to investigate and interdict drug shipments while building legal cases against these defendants.”

“With today’s operation we have surpassed 60 arrests of members of highly organized transnational groups with tentacles reaching from Mexico to Puget Sound,” Weis said. “They profit by pushing extremely dangerous narcotics such as methamphetamines, heroin and the worst of the worst – fentanyl.” Even before Tuesday’s action, the operation “took over 300 pounds of methamphetamine, 55 pounds of heroin, 41,200 fentanyl pills, 30 firearms; and more than $1. 3 million in drug trafficker assets off the streets,” Weis added.

Tuesday’s arrests come on the heels of two other major drug takedowns: On August 5, 2020, law enforcement rolled up a drug trafficking ring that distributed large amounts of fentanyl, heroin and meth in the Seattle area and North Puget Sound region.  During that investigation law enforcement seized more than14 pounds of heroin and 15 pounds of methamphetamine.

On July 28, 2020, law enforcement arrested 13 people named in an indictment for drug trafficking connected to the violent CJNG Mexican cartel. Much of the drug trafficking activity in that case was in the South Sound region, including the Kitsap Peninsula.

Tuesday’s takedown involves drug defendants who distributed fentanyl, meth and heroin in Seattle and North Puget Sound communities. They discussed or conducted their drug deals in a wide variety of locations, such as a Mexican restaurant in Kent, a bank parking lot at the Northgate shopping mall and a 7-11 in Snohomish County. The members of the drug distribution ring were frequently armed – one was pulled over after waving a firearm at another vehicle on I-5 north near Bellingham. In December 2019, law enforcement seized 10 kilos of methamphetamine, 1,000 fentanyl-tainted pills and a loaded firearm from the lead defendant in this case.

Those named in the indictments or taken into custody on criminal complaints include the following local suspects:

Gonzalo Villasenor, 23, Lynnwood

Jocelyn Leyva-Castellanos, 21, Lynnwood

Samantha Hernandez, 38, Lynnwood

Edgar Efren Olivas-Armenta, 43, Edmonds

Julius B. Supnet, 27, Edmonds

Prior to Tuesday’s arrests, law enforcement seized more than 8,000 pills tainted with suspected fentanyl, 22 pounds of heroin, 70 pounds of methamphetamine, one kilo of cocaine, two firearms and approximately $500,000 cash in drug proceeds. On Tuesday, law enforcement seized: 36 pounds of heroin, 1,600 suspected fentanyl pills, a pound of methamphetamine, and seven firearms.

“I’m grateful for the dozens of arrests and the seizure of many pounds of illegal drugs, including thousands of pills likely tainted with fentanyl,” Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said Tuesday.  “What’s far more difficult to count; the number of lives saved and the number of parents who have been spared the trauma of burying their child, thanks to the on-going partnerships between local and federal law enforcement agencies.”

Due to the amount of narcotics involved in this case, some defendants face a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison.

The charges contained in the indictments and complaints are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force, Seattle Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Skagit Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit.  The investigation was supported by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). Local law enforcement agencies assisting with arrests and search warrants executed Tuesday include the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Office, North Sound Metro SWAT and the Mountlake Terrace Police Department.

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