Authorities target violent drug traffickers in series of Puget Sound busts

More than 80 “drug dealing conspirators” have been arrested over the past four months.

Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies carried out a widespread joint operation targeting alleged drug-trafficking rings linked to gun violence across King, Snohomish, Skagit, and Thurston counties on June 6, resulting in over 35 arrests.

The crackdown was the latest in a string of four operations over the past several months in Seattle, the Rainier and Kent valleys, and North Pierce County—areas identified as hotspots for drug and gun crime by the U.S. Department of Justice. Recent KUOW reporting showed that gun violence heavily impacts south Seattle and south King County.

“Over the last four months, more than 80 drug dealing conspirators moving meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl have been taken off our streets where they preyed on destructive addictions and used gun crime to further their trade,” said U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes in a statement. “For more than a year, local police worked with federal partners to build these cases, with the goal of addressing the shifting crime problems in South Sound communities.”

According to a DOJ press release, records filed in the case state that associates of the alleged traffickers arrested on June 6 were killed in various shootings around Seattle and south King County, while law enforcement wiretaps heard some of the arrested individuals talking about getting firearms after being shot at by rival gangs.

“The FBI is committed to holding violent gang members accountable for their actions,” said Special Agent in Charge Jay S. Tabb Jr., of the FBI’s Seattle Field Office, in a statement. “The level of violence committed by these individuals has been detrimental to the South Sound community for years. Today’s arrests mark a major step toward addressing this problem.”

Law enforcement obtained 12 pounds of heroin, over 2 kilos of cocaine, a pound of methamphetamine, and 41 firearms in the June 6 operation.

Agents and officers from the DEA, FBI, ATF, the King County Sheriff’s Office, and many other municipal law enforcement divisions participated in the four crackdowns, one of which resulted in the charging of 20 individuals in an inter-county heroin and methamphetamine distribution network. According to a DOJ press release, the four operations resulted in seizure of 75 guns, 95 pounds of methamphetamine, over 32 pounds of heroin, more than 7 pounds of a combination of crack and powder cocaine and ecstasy and fentanyl. More than $327,000 in cash and 22 vehicles were also seized.

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