16 arrested in multi-state drug ring; officers seize guns, drugs and 100,000 fentanyl pills

16 conspirators were arrested in a multi-state methamphetamine and fentanyl distribution ring, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Western Washington.

The drug ring extended from King, Pierce, Thurston, Lewis, Mason and Kitsap counties down into California, and all the way over into Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee. An investigation into this drug trade was started by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force in 2020, and the 18-month process revealed the scope of this operation.

"This drug organization trafficked two of the deadliest substances we are seeing in our community – fentanyl and methamphetamine," said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.  "Members of the ring tried to trade drugs for firearms – ones they could transport to Mexico – contributing to terrible violence south of the border.  These arrests are a significant step for community safety."

MORE INFO: King County seeing record number of fentanyl deaths this year

On May 16, 2020, law enforcement seized 10 pounds of meth in a traffic stop. Just over a year later on April 2, 2021, 44 pounds of meth were seized in another traffic stop, then 22 pounds of meth on August 17, and then 83 pounds of meth and 20,000 fentanyl pills on September 28.

Over the course of several months, agents seized more than 100,000 fentanyl pills, more than 150 pounds of methamphetamine and close to two-dozen guns. Arrests were made in New York, California, and Washington cities like Kent, Bremerton, Belfair, Spanaway and Tacoma.

Most recently, officers arrested another suspect Tuesday after a standoff in Port Orchard.

"The objectives of this operation were to hold those accountable for the menace of illegal narcotics trafficking, and the violence associated with it, which has plagued our communities for far too long in the state of Washington and throughout the Pacific Northwest," stated DEA Special Agent in Charge, Frank Tarentino.  "The DEA and our partners are focused on the most dangerous criminals in Washington. Today’s successful operation should give members of the community a level of comfort in knowing these violent offenders, who live and walk among us, won’t be putting their lives in danger any longer."

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