A vast international drug trafficking organization, which brought hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine and heroin into the Portland metro area, is no more, thanks to a coordinated, multi-agency law enforcement operation that included the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.
Last week, federal search warrants were executed at 13 locations throughout the Portland area, where investigators seized 22 pounds of methamphetamine, four ounces of heroin, 11 ounces of cocaine and seven firearms. Twenty people were arrested, joining 10 defendants who were already in custody on related state charges.
A 60-count indictment, which was unsealed last week, alleges two men, Samuel Diaz and Faustino Monroy, organized, led and ran an organization responsible for trafficking hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine and heroin, with an estimated wholesale value of $15 million, into the Portland area for resale.
At its peak, police say the ring was importing up to 77 pounds of methamphetamine and 55 pounds of heroin every week in and around Portland — more than 600,000 individual doses.
“This country and communities in Oregon are drowning in deadly substance abuse,” Billy J. Williams, U.S. District Attorney for Oregon said in a press release. “Vulnerable people addicted to drugs of all kinds are the targets of greedy criminals pushing their deadly poison. We will continue to work with our federal, state, local and tribal partners to disrupt these criminal organizations.”
The organization would import large quantities of illegal drugs that were taken to stash houses throughout the metro area, where they were processed and prepared for sale. A large network of local drug dealers would then distribute user quantities of each drug.
The organization would routinely change stash locations, rotate vehicles and phones, and pay individual couriers to take time off to avoid detection by law enforcement.
Members of the organization obtained rifles and handguns in the U.S. and attempted to transport them to associates in Mexico to strengthen and protect the organization and its activities.
Additionally, the ring used a Southeast Portland mini market called Tienda Mexicana Gonzalez Inc., also known as the Gonzalez Bros. Market, to launder their proceeds via international electronic money wires.
These wires were deliberately structured using low-denomination transfers to avoid triggering a suspicious activity report as required by U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
In total, the organization’s drug trafficking and money laundering efforts netted over $1 million in less than a year. Diaz and Monroy, the leaders of the ring, remain at large in Mexico.
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