Federal agents and local police have arrested 24 people in raids across Puget Sound in connection with a massive drug bust operation they called "Pee-wee's Playhouse," officials told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday.
The U.S. attorney's office says the ring was led by 43-year-old Herman J. Roche of Kent. He's one of 18 people indicted on a charge of conspiracy to distribute controlled substance. Six others were arrested for alleged roles in the ring. The accused include two people from Oakland and Stockton, Calif.
"This ring was feeding addiction with thousands of pills trafficked from California," U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkin said in a news release.
Members of the ring would frequently travel to California to pick up 3,000 to 5,000 oxycodone pills per trip, according to the news release.
The raids included one in West Seattle and one in Tacoma on Tuesday morning.
A West Seattle home in the 5400 block of 30th Avenue Southwest was searched.
A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol vehicle was parked outside the home, and a KIRO 7 News crew at the scene said FBI agents were searching the garage, going through boxes and bags for hours.
Neighbor Ross McGilvray said he was surprised by the commotion at the home.
“I was just sleeping and I heard someone yelling 'Search warrant! Search warrant!’ and then it sounded like they used a battering ram to kick in the door,” said McGilvray.
Another neighbor, who declined to be identified, said the family hadn’t lived in the house for long.
"They moved in a few months ago. They were really quiet, and they had a couple kids and had some fun outside in the backyard. They were really easy neighbors. Probably the best ones that we've had.”
One man was taken into custody at the house.
Another location that was searched was near 12th and Trafton in Tacoma.
A law enforcement source said the suspects were buying the drugs in California, and then selling it on the streets of Seattle's Central District and Rainier Valley.