VIDEO: West Seattle searches were part of two-state operation targeting traffickers blamed for ‘staggering’ amount of fentanyl, meth

(WSB photo. At the podium, Western Washington US Attorney Nicholas Brown)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

One day after a wave of warrants for 14 locations brought out hundreds of federal and local law-enforcement officers and agents, their bosses briefed the media this afternoon downtown.

As reported here Tuesday, the activity was seen in at least four areas of West Seattle. However, those at today’s briefing said they couldn’t discuss specific locations not mentioned in indictment documents, and none of those refer to WS locations. Here’s our video of what they did say at the half-hour-plus briefing/Q&A in a conference room at the Federal Courthouse:

They’ve indicted eleven people who were arrested in what the federal and local authorities said was activity connected to drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs). It’s part of an ongoing investigation that they said traces back to early last year, primarily involving drug smuggling from Mexico up the I-5 corridor. Two of the locations named in indictments were RVs that were pulled over on I-5 in southern Washington. Some of the 14 locations were in California, and there are some Californians on the list of those indicted:

Jose Paleo, 29, of La Mirada, California
Octavio Guzman, 24, of Huntington Park, California
Glauco Guardado Rodriguez, 25, of Seattle
Araceli Salas, 30, of Maywood, California
Maria Rangel Aguilar, 44, of Huntington Park, California
Miguel Thomas, 33, of Tukwila
Tad Fulton, 48, of Seattle
Ryan Holmquist, 34, of Issaquah
Timothy Hursh, 38, of SeaTac
Ryan Terry, 44, of Duvall
Abel Cruz, 32, of Des Moines (WA)

What was seized around the region yesterday, according to the feds, totaled more than four pounds of fentanyl, 10 pounds of heroin, 10 pounds of meth, and 67 guns, plus “high-capacity rifle ammunition,” thousands of rounds of ammunition, two sets of body amor, and one “ballistic shield.” They showed a photo of the weaponry seized at one unidentified location in Ballard:

Prior seizures in the same investigation were listed as including 43 more guns, a million dollars in cash, more than half a ton of meth, 20 pounds of fentanyl powder, and more than 330,000 fentanyl pills. In all, DEA Seattle special agent in charge Jake Galvan said the amount of drugs seized was “staggering.” They also showed this photo of an identifying mark that they said traffickers had stamped on kilos of drug powder:

The deadliness of fentanyl was stressed time and time again during the briefing, as law-enforcement leaders not only touted what their operation had accomplished but also pleaded with the wider community to do their part by reducing demand. More treatment and counseling needs to be offered too, they said. Yes, this isn’t necessarily a crippling blow to the drug trade, but, Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said, they’re saving lives by taking some of it off the street. Reducing demand and supply also would cut down on crime, he noted in response to a question, acknowledging that so much property crime is tied to users trying to get money for the next high.

And while the specific locations searched weren’t identified, regional US Attorney Nick Brown, who led the briefing, observed that so much of them were in “neighborhoods” and that it almost literally hit home for him – saying that one was about a mile from where he lives in West Seattle and “I read on the West Seattle Blog about people waking up to flashbangs,”

The agencies involved in the warrant operations were the fBI, DEA, SPD, Customs and Border Protection, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, and Homeland Security Investigations, as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, described in a news release as a coalition that “identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.” The indictments announced in connection with this – 11 people whose indictments were unsealed after the warrant operations Tuesday, six people who were indicted last month – will proceed through the federal court system.

46 Replies to "VIDEO: West Seattle searches were part of two-state operation targeting traffickers blamed for 'staggering' amount of fentanyl, meth"

  • RecreationalOutrage October 26, 2022 (5:16 pm)

    Yikes, spin up the Psycho Bunny crisis management team.

  • Watertowerjim October 26, 2022 (5:31 pm)

    Don’t fret.  Kamala is on this!  It’ll only be a matter of days before fentanyl stops coming across the border.  She’s might even visit it soon!

    • James October 26, 2022 (7:13 pm)

      If you think the war on drugs was a success during Trump’s presidency, here’s a little light reading for you. Spoiler alert: it failed.

      • Adam October 26, 2022 (8:58 pm)

        Honestly it’s weird that your response to nothing about Trump was a mention of Trump. I get that ppl can be polarized today down political lines, but the only thing clear, thanks to your reply, is what your biases are. Just have an argument about what they said based on merit. Just debate and use good logic and sound rationale and you may not even need to pop in with unrelated topics. We don’t ACTUALLY live in a world with only two choices, even if that’s all you can see. 

        • James October 26, 2022 (9:59 pm)

          What the heck, I’ve got time before bed. If you perform a simple search on West Seattle Blog, you‘ll quickly ascertain that Watertowerjim is not a fan of this presidential administration. Based on Watertowerjim’s comment history, it would not be far-fetched to assume Biden and Harris was not the desired outcome. Thus the factoid about Trump’s administration doing its part failing in the war on drugs. My political leanings aren’t on display like Watertowerjim’s.

        • Kali October 26, 2022 (10:00 pm)

          Except what they “said on merit” was super politically charged. The implication was the it was working before and now it’s not. Believe it or not words have context. We’re not robots and even the dumbest among us could see what was meant by that. So it’s not replying to nothing with politicalness it’s replying to the actual meaning of reply and is welcome imi

    • Boinsted October 26, 2022 (8:17 pm)

      Here we go with the political commentary. The reason the drugs are here is because there is a market for them. Your Kamala comment helps nobody. 

  • ImASurvivor October 26, 2022 (5:45 pm)

    Remember Nick Brown being on Survivor! It’s cool seeing him in this position now.

  • Jethro Marx October 26, 2022 (5:46 pm)

    Whoa, is that an H&K pistol amongst the crap guns? I’ll assume it’s stolen. Thanks for getting all that off the mean streets, law-enforcers!

    • Rhonda October 26, 2022 (7:28 pm)

      Yes. Good eye. That’s an HK USP Compact.

  • The King October 26, 2022 (5:57 pm)

    Oh gee this is terrible. Anyone have any ideas on how so many drugs could come across the US-Mexico border like this?

    • bolo October 26, 2022 (6:50 pm)

      Boats, planes, submarines, welded inside car body panels, suitcases, taped to human bodies.
      There was a well done HBO series a few years ago called “Narcos” that showed some of the methods. Very lucrative. They were rolling in so much money they ran out of places to keep it.

    • B October 27, 2022 (2:18 am)

      NAFTA, and the sheer volume sent vs. the percentage of said volume being caught  (80%+ success multiplied over time w techniques advancing faster to send, than methods to stop). It is not simply the politicized ‘weak wall, immigration’ issue. It is the under discussed Corporate economy doctrine of efficient trade over border security, that leads to a drug freeway. Dual nationals contribute to this more than asylum seekers.  

    • Lagartija Nick October 27, 2022 (9:27 am)

      There are thousands of ways that drugs come across the border, very few few of which would be deterred by a “big, beautiful wall.”

    • Ferns October 27, 2022 (5:23 pm)

      Tunnels are incredibly popular. The kind that make budget-busting, environmentally degrading  walls little more than security theater. and political theater. 

  • flimflam October 26, 2022 (6:46 pm)

    Wow, huge bust. What blows my mind is people that say drug use/addiction is a “victimless crime”…tell that to the countless small towns (and larger ones) in Mexico under the thumb of cartel rule. The overwhelming majority of the drugs are for US users and addicts, not Mexican citizens. Cartels rule many areas in Mexico with a bruta, iron fist so that they can deliver hard drugs to US users. This doesn’t even mention the other side effects of theft and crime to support habits. 

    • AJ October 26, 2022 (9:18 pm)

      All of those harms would be drastically reduced or fully eliminated, if we decriminalized the drugs. 

      • AJ October 26, 2022 (9:23 pm)

        That would take the cartels power away, stop the deaths from overdose due to contamination/overconcentration/mislabeling potency, and end the gun violence inside and outside the US that goes back to the drug trade. It would also much easier to provide treatment and reduce the demand for the drugs itself. We need to replace illegal meth with legalized adderall and illegal opioids with legalized painkillers. Not the private market, more like the way Washington handled alcohol (which is more dangerous, all else equal) before the 2011 Costco initiative

        • Dh October 26, 2022 (11:24 pm)

          Have you not heard of the opioid crisis? As a family member of someone who went down that path, your comments are insensitive and baseless. These drugs take control of people and it’s ALL they can think about. Legalize them? Make them more available? God!  Your ideologies are painful! Go away!

          • B October 27, 2022 (2:37 am)

            Exactly! The legalization argument only works with Marijuana, Mushrooms and Prostitution. Things that have existed for centuries, where society has finally evolved to realize these things are regulatable (perhaps for the good of society and especially those patrons). With synthetic over-prescribed opiods, it doesnt come close to the traditional legalization argument. The cartel is the stool pigeon of the pimp. They’re just filling the void of distribution created by the pimp. Opiods are not in a place where legalization would eliminate black market supply. It hasnt for weed, etc. The Billionare Boys Club Big Pharma are the only ones manufacturing this poison in the name of profit via ‘necessary medical need’. And the only ones not protecting their patents enough to let Chinese manufacturers flood the markets. The Opiod Crisis had/has its day in court, and it’s up to us to find out what our state is doing with that Hundreds of Millions in settlement money!?! And that was just one lawsuit, of many states, counties and cities who took money rather than fight to end certain drugs. I’m very confident the settlement money will solve the current addiction crisis we face (said no one). 

          • WestSeattleBadTakes October 27, 2022 (12:04 pm)

            Decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Please do your research on the topic.

      • Frustrated October 27, 2022 (5:55 am)

        Your solution is to make people MORE willing to use drugs? Sure, making something easier for a person to do is a sure-fire way to get them to not do it, right?

        • WestSeattleBadTakes October 27, 2022 (11:52 am)

          Decriminalization has a growing body of evidence. It is also a more humane approach to this issue. That doesn’t mean ultimate leniency when it comes to crime, but our current approach clearly isn’t working.

          I would suggest you do some research on the topic.

          Portugal has what I believe the longest running version of this policy (2001). Here is an excellent (brief) paper covering the results and history.

          The current research, combined with it being a far more humane approach, should have you demanding these policies. Not to mention it removes the need for the very criminal organizations this post is about. So tell me, do you really want to solve this problem?

        • Your neighbor like it or not October 27, 2022 (1:19 pm)

          Umm i can assure you that those who want to use are going to whether it is legal or not so i dont think what frustrated says makes any sense? I am for decriminalization or legalization. Just quit with your stupid war on drugs which celebrates instances as this story as wins so that they look good yet really no progress has been made. Just imposing will on people. What business is it of yours what i do on my free time. Saying it cant be done like weed? Why? Pretty sure it can you just dont like the idea

          • Frustrated October 27, 2022 (2:14 pm)

            I was one of those people who was offered pills in high school and turned it down because it was illegal. That method of influence works on at least some people, so why get rid of it? There’s also the problem of comparing the legalization of drugs with alcohol, since there are billions of casual consumers of alcohol in the world but no casual consumers of meth and fentanyl. You can’t casually consume those substances – they consume you no matter what your propensity for addiction. Making these substances legal won’t make the lives of the people who are hooked on them any better, or any of our lives any better for that matter. All you will do is create more addicts who need to pay for their drugs somehow – most likely by stealing OUR stuff like the current addicts do.

          • Your neighbor like it or not October 27, 2022 (6:46 pm)

            And wouldnt have to steal to pay for those “habits” anyways, because they would be legal and thus would be able to have a job to pay for them

    • AJ October 26, 2022 (9:24 pm)

      All of those harms would be drastically reduced or fully eliminated, if we decriminalized the drugs. That would take the cartels power away, stop the deaths from overdose due to contamination/overconcentration/mislabeling potency, and end the gun violence inside and outside the US that goes back to the drug trade. It would also much easier to provide treatment and reduce the demand for the drugs itself. We need to replace illegal meth with legalized adderall and illegal opioids with legalized painkillers. Not by healthcare corporations like Purdue or private pharmacies, more like the way Washington handled alcohol (which is more dangerous, all else equal) before the 2011 Costco-backed privatization initiative.

  • TJ October 26, 2022 (7:07 pm)

    Lucky this is under the federal governments control now. These people will be facing serious charges and time, and federal courts don’t listen to all the outside voices trying to support these low life criminals that so many municipal and county courts do. Many instances out there, mostly in California, of people being released with no bail after getting caught with tons of fentanyl and with people saying the criminals are actually victims of drug traffickers. It’s time for city, county, and state courts to get serious on drug trafficking. Here’s to seeing these lowlifes led from court and to dissapear into the federal prison system

  • neighbor or the indicted October 26, 2022 (8:07 pm)

    Thank you for this bust, we were woken up on Tuesday to flash bangs, grabbed our 5yo and bunkered in our basement lest an errant bullet hit our bedroom. Staggering haul of deadly stuff off the streets, glad for this!

  • 1994 October 26, 2022 (9:32 pm)

    Excellent work! Less drugs, guns, and nasty guys running around contributing to ruining lives.

  • Jay October 27, 2022 (1:31 am)

    I notice there’s a flintlock derringer on the table. Was one of the guys an old fashioned pirate?

  • marcus October 27, 2022 (7:33 am)

    Hey I did not see any comments on who might be buying these drugs.  Most of these drugs I would imagine are not used by people who need to activly go to work, raise children and get them to the school bus and any of my neighbors because their life would devolve into chaos and a big tail spin.  So that leaves the standard crimials who poach porches, steal cars and parts and brake into businesses trying to find anything that they can sell for $$ to buy drugs.  Wow did I just sterrotype?  So with less drugs on the streets then I would hope that the drug users would go elsewhere.   These raids are fine by me and hope they do more.

    • B October 28, 2022 (5:50 am)

      Right on Marcus! Except there is that one ‘RV’ that is technically a roving ‘schoolbus’. We’ve all seen it, am I right WS?  The idea that we can’t call drug addiction what it is and not tackle it as a pressing issue (because of some dumb knee-jerk reactionaries talking about feelings), really is troubling. To live in Seattle means you work in Seattle. You have to. To work in Seattle means you have the privilege of raising kids in Seattle. If you don’t work in Seattle, don’t setup your beachfront RV in Seattle. 

  • Junction Function October 27, 2022 (7:40 am)

    If drugs and prostitution were legalized and regulated there wouldn’t be a black market to use up police resources. Set up a red light district in Fife or Lynwood, bring in tax money and new businesses for the edgy folk looking for excitement. Problem solved. But will this happen? Probably not, just keep on with the ol broke status quo. 

  • Mike October 27, 2022 (7:52 am)

    Is there a way to view booking photos of these lovelies? Since they were (or still are) our neighbors. I’m assuming that those are public records in some form but don’t know how to sift for them in the maze of bureaucratic blather on the various LEA websites. Thanks.

    • WSB October 27, 2022 (2:14 pm)

      No, mug shots generally are not available, except for people who have served time in our state prison system. As for whether they’d be available in a PDR (which can take weeks or months to be fulfilled), that I don’t know.

      • Mike October 27, 2022 (3:37 pm)

        OK, thanks for explaining.

  • Eldorado October 27, 2022 (7:52 am)

    This is Huge! Congratulations to all officials and Law enforcement officers who made this happen!

  • Rhonda October 27, 2022 (10:15 am)

    My brother in law was found dead last month, parked on a street in West Seattle on his way home. When he didn’t show up for work we knew something was wrong because he was very responsible. The police didn’t find him until the following afternoon when a neighbor reported it. He had been having bad (recurring) back pain and we assume bought and took the pills after leaving his girlfriend’s house, somewhere in West Seattle. He was a week shy of his 40th birthday, started college in high school, earned a master’s in psychology, built his house in Burien, was a gifted musician, was a good, kind person. We never saw this coming. He was the youngest in our family; it wasn’t supposed to happen. He made the choice to take the drugs, but I hope one of these guys arrested was the dealer who sold him fentanyl-laced pills.

    • Betsy October 27, 2022 (10:21 am)

      I am so, so sorry to hear about your tragic loss. What a devastation for your family. I hope your family finds peace and justice. 

      • Rhonda October 28, 2022 (11:46 am)

        Thank you, Betsy.

  • Sasquatch October 27, 2022 (1:10 pm)

    Fantastic News! Fentanyl is such a dangerous drug. Great job Feds and SPD! I  wish I could buy you a drink.

  • Seattlite October 27, 2022 (1:51 pm)

    Just the TIP OF THE ICEBERG.

  • Brian October 28, 2022 (8:38 am)

    Love the inclusion of the flintlock pistol. Really glad we got that one off the streets, boys.

  • Mr. Ghaz October 29, 2022 (2:41 pm)

    Dealing hard drugs is one of the most heinous and antisocial crimes that has ever been devised: it combines aspects of enslavement and death for its victims, both of which are indeed already grave crimes. Time to apply capital punishment and caning for drug dealers (how about victims families can volunteer to do the caning if they should like?), the same as Singapore, which has 140x less rate of opioid use than the US. It’s appalling people think decriminalization is an answer: look at countries with very little drug crime like S’pore for solutions.

Sorry, comment time is over.