UPDATE AT 1:17 P.M.: More than 20 people were arrested today in the Seattle area and Northern California during a series of raids targeting an oxycodone trafficking ring, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.
Eighteen of the defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury for distributing thousands of oxycodone pills in the Seattle area. An additional six defendants were arrested for their role in the drug distribution scheme.
At a news conference at the FBI office in Seattle, Special Agent in Charge Laura Laughlin said the arrests were the result of a two-year investigation by the Seattle Safe Streets Task Force.
“Prescription drug abuse is a growing threat in our community, with terrible consequences,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a news release. “This drug ring was feeding addiction with thousands of pills trafficked from California. They lined their pockets by destroying the lives and families of so many in our community.”
According to the criminal complaints and indictment, members of the ring would frequently travel to Northern California to pick-up between 2,000 and 5,000 oxycodone pills per trip. The ring, led by Herman Roche, 43, of Kent, would then sell the pills throughout the Puget Sound region, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In addition to Kent, suspects were arrested in Seattle, Tukwila, Tacoma, Spanaway and Renton, as well as Stockton and Oakland, Calif.
Federal agents are searching “multiple locations” in an apparent gang-related operation in the Seattle area, according to Times news partner WestSeattleBlog.com.
One of the sites is a hillside home between High Point and Camp Long. Agencies taking part include the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Ayn Sandalo Dietrich, spokeswoman for the FBI in Seattle, confirmed that the FBI is in West Seattle and several other locations in the Puget Sound region in some type of “operational activity.”
“There are no further details I can provide at this time, though, because the situation is still fluid,” she said in an email to The Times.
However, the FBI and Seattle police will hold a news conference on the operation, part of the Seattle Safe Streets Task Force, at 1 this afternoon. We’ll update this post shortly after the news conference.
According to the FBI’s website, the task force “works to identify, disrupt, and dismantle existing and emerging violent criminal enterprises and gangs in King County, as well as other individuals and groups whose criminal activity negatively impacts the Puget Sound area.”