A drug bust has resulted in the seizure of properties across Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada and the arrests of 12 people.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon said investigators found approximately 115,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl labeled “M/30,” 41 lbs. of methamphetamine and 57 lbs. of heroin.
Court documents revealed the organization, led by suspect Luis Antonio Beltran Arrendondo, 32, of Las Vegas, had been under investigation by Drug Enforcement Agents since fall 2021.
Investigators believe Arrendondo was importing counterfeit oxycodone and heroin from Mexico into California, then distributing it across Oregon and Washington.
Arrendondo’s significant other and suspected accomplice, Jacqueline Paola Rodriguez Barrientos, 41, has been indicted as the chief money launderer for the operation.
Agents executed search warrants in Hillsboro, Portland, Tualatin and Wilsonville, as well as Fresno and Hawaiian Gardens in California and Las Vegas. A financial investigation found Barrientos laundered money made by the organization through the Mazatlán Beauty Salon in Tualatin, Oregon, and by purchasing real estate.
All real estate purchases were made by cashier’s checks funded by cash deposits, according to investigators. These purchases were funded by various accounts under Barrientos’ name or Mazatlán Beauty Salon, which at times exceeded $370,000 per deposit.
The deposits totaled more than $3.5 million during a 9-month period in 2021. In the same year, members of the organization purchased a total of nine residences worth over $4.6 million. All nine properties were purchased outright — with no mortgages, officials said.
Arrendondo and Barrientos were arrested February 17 at their Las Vegas residence, where agents seized two luxury cars, receipts documenting high-end purchases and credit card statements tracking the couple’s spending.
On March 15, Arrendondo and Barrientos made their initial appearances in federal court. Both are in custody pending trial. All 10 of Arrendondo and Barrientos’ co-conspirators have been arrested and are also pending trial in the District of Oregon.
Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.
This case was investigated by DEA with assistance from the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the IRS, Tigard Police Department and Oregon State Police. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. A 3-milligram dose of fentanyl — a few grains of the substance — is enough to kill an average adult male.
The availability of illicit fentanyl in Oregon has caused a dramatic increase in overdose deaths throughout the state.
Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that there were more than 100,000 drug overdoses in the U.S. during the year ending April 2021, an increase of nearly 29% from the previous 12-month period.
Synthetic opioids — primarily fentanyl — accounted for more than three-quarters of these deaths. Drug overdose continues to be the leading cause of injury or death in the U.S.
Earlier this month, officials announced the seizure of about 150,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills made with fentanyl and about 20 pounds of fentanyl powder in a sting operation in the parking lot outside the Oregon City Home Depot. It’s believed to be the largest single fentanyl seizure in Oregon history.
If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, please call the Lines for Life substance abuse helpline at 1-800-923-4357 or visit linesforlife.org. Phone support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911.
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