US Attorney For Oregon Announces Massive Drug Bust
U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy Williams announced a 60-count indictment Wednesday against 41 defendants, who he said conspired to distribute methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine manufactured in Mexico throughout the Portland metropolitan area.
The case, unsealed by a judge in federal court on Wednesday, is one of the "largest takedowns of a drug trafficking organization" in Oregon history, Williams said. He said defendants in the case were facing lengthy prison sentences, including in some cases, life behind bars.
Defendants Samuel Diaz and Faustino Monroy began the drug ring in November 2018, according to the indictment.
The two men "organized, led and ran a vast international drug organization that obtained and flooded our community with hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine and heroin," Williams said.
Both Diaz and Monroy are at large in Mexico. They worked with many others around the region to distribute as much as 77 pounds of meth and 55 pounds of heroin, every week in and around Portland, Williams said.
"This amounts to roughly 600,000 individual user doses," he said.
On Wednesday, federal, state and local law enforcement arrested 20 people in connection with alleged drug ring. Ten other defendants in the case are already in custody, Williams said. The same day, law enforcement executed 13 federal search warrants across the Portland area, seizing several guns, $40,000 in cash, and more than 20 pounds of various drugs, he said.
The money from drug sales was laundered via international wire transfers through a convenience store on 12441 Southeast Powell Blvd. called Tienda Mexicana Gonzalez Inc., or Gonzalez Bros., according to court documents.
"As part of the money laundering conspiracy, defendants manipulated this otherwise lawful process by using the wire transmitting business services at Gonzalez Bros. to take cash generated from the drug trafficking organization and structure low denomination wire transactions to the drug trafficking organization in Mexico, and to other locations in the United States, under the pretense of legal wire transfers," the indictment states.
The low denominations were intended to avoid detection by law enforcement, Williams said. The operation netted more than $1 million in less than one year, he said.
The Gresham Police Department brought a lead to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigation division, the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office.
"Our detectives often get confidential informants and it came as a result of some of that," Gresham Police Chief Robin Sells said. "Obviously, some of that I can't discuss, but that's where it began."
Law enforcement officials declined to disclose how many agents and officers were involved in the investigation. They also declined to say how many participated in Wednesday's arrests.
Future court dates have not been set yet.
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