News Release [print-friendly page]
January 27, 2006
Contact: DEA Public Affairs

DEA Anti-Meth Operation Nets 38 Arrests
“Operation Ben Franklin” Cracks Down on Violent Drug Traffickers in Tri-Cities

Jan 27 -- DEA and other law enforcement officials today announced the successful results of “Operation Ben Franklin,” an innovative effort targeting violent methamphetamine traffickers operating throughout Benton and Franklin County, Washington. 38 individuals were arrested and 23 search warrants were executed by DEA and the Tri-City Metro Drug Task Force.

"The Drug Enforcement Administration continues to target criminal organizations profiting at the expense of others, particularly our youth. Operation Ben Franklin is an example of how we are working closely together with our partners to make our communities safer by taking drug traffickers and their dangerous drugs and weapons off the streets,” said DEA Seattle Special Agent-in-Charge Rodney G. Benson.

Beginning the week of January 15, 2006, the DEA Yakima Resident Office, in cooperation with the Metro Drug Task Force, the ATF, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Law Enforcement Against Drugs Task Force, and the Prosser Police Department, began conducting undercover methamphetamine buys from 22 drug houses and individuals throughout Benton and Franklin County. Agents and officers were also able to purchase a weapon from a drug trafficker and wanted felon during one of these undercover enforcement activities. Enforcement operations against the targets began in the early morning hours of January 25, 2006, and culminated on January 26, 2006. These enforcement actions led to 38 arrests, the execution of 23 search warrants, and the seizure of methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, oxycodone, 10 vehicles, approximately $10,000.00 in U.S. currency, and 8 weapons.

“The guns that have been recovered in this investigation may lead to mandatory sentences ranging from five to ten years, upon conviction,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Kelvin N. Crenshaw.  “By initiating a joint investigation, we have effectively combined resources to address the scope of these violent crimes.”

The Governing Board of the Metro Drug Task Force said: "This investigation demonstrates the success of working together at all levels of law enforcement. This operation identified drug and weapon traffickers willing to take advantage of our community, which resulted in their arrest. This is the first of many combined law enforcement efforts against those people willing to harm our citizens."

The Benton and Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office will charge these individuals with appropriate crimes for drug trafficking and other related activities, including Delivery of a Controlled Substance and Possession with Intent to Distribute. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Eastern Washington may charge some of those individuals arrested in Federal court with drug, weapon, and immigration violations where appropriate.

SPECIAL NOTE: Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge, DEA, Seattle Field Division, has provided audio comments on “Operation Ben Franklin.” To access, please do the following:  

Dial 888-557-6494
Enter: 701, 702, 703
Listen and record.

(Note: You will need to dial separately for each quote)