More than 35 people were arrested Wednesday in the latest of a series of large-scale drug trafficking busts that targeted the South Sound this year.
In the fourth such bust in the past four months, officers from local, state and federal agencies made the arrests and took search warrants across Pierce, Thurston, King, Snohomish and Skagit counties.
Investigators said that, in the four operations combined, they have seized 75 guns, more than 95 pounds of methamphetamine, 32 pounds of heroin, seven pounds of cocaine and some ecstasy and fentanyl. They also confiscated more than $327,000 and 22 vehicles.
More than 80 defendants total face drug and gun charges in U.S. District Court. Those indicted are from across Western Washington, including Pierce County residents from Fife, Tacoma, Bonney Lake, Puyallup and Lakewood.
The cases are meant to reduce drug and gang violence in North Pierce County, Seattle and South King County, the U.S. Attorney's office said Wednesday.
"... more than 80 drug dealing conspirators moving meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl have been taken off our streets where they preyed on destructive addictions and used gun crime to further their trade," U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes said. "For more than a year, local police worked with federal partners to build these cases, with the goal of addressing the shifting crime problems in South Sound communities."
Representatives from some of the many agencies involved in the busts spoke at a press conference Wednesday.
Deputy Puyallup Police Chief Dave McDonald spoke on behalf of his department and the Tacoma Narcotics Enforcement Team — a task force led by the Drug Enforcement Agency and made up of federal agents and local officers.
McDonald spoke about a March bust, which involved 20 arrests of heroin and meth traffickers who focused on the Tacoma area and South King County. Ultimately, investigators found more than four pounds of meth, 11 pounds of heroin, 17 firearms, $40,000 and eight vehicles.
"The March 2018 takedown was one of these cases that was initiated by a Puyallup narcotics detective," McDonald told reporters. "The detective realized early on that the drug trafficker he had targeted was producing large quantities of meth and heroin from multiple suppliers."
The DEA was brought in, and the bust led to another in May, McDonald said.
"Forty-two guns were seized in just one takedown that day," he said of the May bust. "That underscores the regular nexus between guns and drugs."
The May operation focused on two groups trafficking meth in South King County, the U.S. Attorney's Office said, and involved 16 defendants.
The first bust was in February, and involved five alleged drug traffickers in the Pioneer Square area of Seattle.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said the investigations used wiretaps and surveillance to target drug trafficking rings linked to violence.