Updated:KING COUNTY, Wash. —
A drug-trafficking conspiracy was busted by federal agents Wednesday and eight people have been arrested.
Members of the conspiracy maintained drug stash houses throughout the Pacific Northwest, U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said in a statement. Search warrants were served Wednesday in Vancouver, Covington, Puyallup, SeaTac, Tukwila, Seattle and Tacoma.
Durkan said some of the drug traffickers conducted their deals at a Mexican restaurant in Seattle's South Park neighborhood: the Juan Colorado. The restaurant was closed Wednesday while law-enforcement officials searched it. However, later in the day KIRO found it back open and confronted a woman working inside about the drug problem. She said she knew nothing about it.
"The members of this drug trafficking conspiracy brought meth, cocaine and heroin to our communities, preying on those with addictions to line their own pockets," Durkan said. "This lengthy investigation led to seizures of illegal weapons as well as street drugs. This strong law enforcement collaboration is essential to keeping our communities safe."
The investigation began in November 2011. Surveillance indicates the conspirators brought the drugs up from California and sold them at various locations, ranging from auto wrecking yards in Auburn to outside restaurants at the Southcenter shopping mall, according to Durkan's office.
"Today's operation is just the beginning of the end for an aggressive drug and weapons trafficking organization," FBI Special Agent-In-Charge Laura M. Laughlin said in a statement. "The FBI will continue to work with the Seattle Police Department, ATF and other law enforcement agencies to bring an end to the drugs, guns and violence that these criminals bring to our streets."
Suspects arrested Wednesday include Jose Ayala Mazoraquil, 39, of Tukwila; Alfonso Rojo Lopez, 26, and Joseph Edward Bell, 62, of SeaTac; and Pedro Gomez, 27, and Benjamin Castro, 45, of Seattle. Three people were arrested on criminal complaints, including Victor Amaya Cruz, 24, of Auburn.
In their search for Cruz, the FBI raided a house in Auburn. The man who lives in the house says Cruz is his nephew. He said his nephew used his address for his vehicle registration but he’s never lived there. The swat team busted down the door and searched the house for drugs. The homeowner says the feds had the wrong house. He was very upset about the damage to his property. They arrested Cruz somewhere else today. Cruz and 7 others are facing drug and weapons charges.
FBI Agents and swat teams searched properties in Vancouver, Covington, Puyallup, SeaTac, Tukwila, Seattle and Tacoma. Neighbors heard the flash bangs the swat team used to try to take the occupants of the homes off-guard. Tia Yukish lives across from the home searched in Auburn and said, “They were bull horning, saying for everyone to get on the ground inside the house.” “My husband and I were really shocked at the whole idea it was evening happening. It seemed surreal,” added Yukish.
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