News brief: Sixty-five pounds of heroin “off the menu” after sweep

Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Drug customers from Lewis, Thurston and other nearby counties are going to find it harder to place their orders after yesterday’s sweep that took down a trafficking organization authorities say operated like a pizza delivery business using runners and dispatchers to distribute primarily heroin.

More than 65 pounds of black tar heroin were seized and 23 people arrested – mostly from the Tacoma area – during yesterday’s coordinated law enforcement effort targeting Mexican cartels distributing large amounts of heroin and methamphetamine in the region, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force, the Grays Harbor Drug Task Force and the Lakewood Police Department. Numerous other agencies assisted.

“This investigation strikes a blow against a dangerous scourge in our communities,” United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said in a news release following this morning’s news conference in Tacoma. “Yesterday, in just one residence, agents found 58 pounds of black tar heroin – a stunning indication of the massive amounts of poison this group was spreading.”

According to the news release, drug customers from Pierce, Thurston, Lewis, Kitsap, and Grays Harbor counties could call a dispatcher and order drugs and would be told an intersection of where to park within a six-square mile area of south Tacoma.

The protocol included, according to the news release: the dispatcher would take a description of the customer’s car, and then the drug runner’s vehicle would drive slowly past as a signal to follow into a residential neighborhood where the transaction would be made.

During the 13-month investigation, and including yesterday, authorities seized more than 80 pounds of heroin, $400,000 cash, four firearms and more than four pounds of methamphetamine. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were being shipped to Mexico in hidden compartments built into vehicles, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Yesterday’s arrests and search warrants were part of a national effort dubbed “Project Deliverance” targeting the transportation infrastructure of Mexican drug trafficking groups in the United States.

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