Twelve People Charged Following Investigation of Drug Trafficking Ring
Second round of indictments as investigators work to identify sources of supply and take guns off the street
SEATTLE - Twelve people are in custody today following a second round of arrests in an investigation involving armed drug trafficking, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. The indictments and arrests today are a follow-up to the April 7, 2021, takedown involving 24 defendants. Most of those arrested today will appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle and Tacoma this afternoon.
“Even after the arrest of 24 defendants in April, law enforcement pursued the higher-level sources of the drugs that were distributed in our community,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. “I am pleased that prosecutors in our office and law enforcement officers continued to work up the chain of this trafficking organization making large drug seizures and taking guns off the street.”
“This investigation has removed a large number of firearms and narcotics from the hands of violent drug traffickers operating throughout the Seattle Metropolitan area,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarantino. “The violence spike in our communities is a clear and present danger to public safety and is a top priority for DEA and our law enforcement partners. For those wreaking havoc in our streets and perpetuating violence, you will be held accountable.”
During the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized 84 firearms, including stolen firearms and ghost guns, 16 kilos of cocaine and about 50-thousand fentanyl tainted pills. In one traffic stop in January 2021 on I-5 they seized 6 kilos of cocaine that defendant Arambula was bringing back from southern California.
In all, law enforcement has seized more than $1 million in cash. They also seized a pill press used for manufacturing fentanyl tainted pills, three pounds of methamphetamine and some heroin.
Today alone officers seized 48 guns, 2 kilograms of cocaine, 2 pounds of methamphetamine, several thousand fentanyl pills and two illegal marijuana grows. An additional $120,000 cash was also seized.
Those indicted in this round include:
Cresencio Moreno Aguirre, 41 of Kent, Washington
David William Armer, 41, Spanaway, Washington
Samuel Duarte Avila, 47, of Renton, Washington
Elyas Mohamed Kerow, 27, of Seattle
Brett David Radcliff, 21, of Puyallup, Washington
Sergio Reyes-Pina, 39, of Seattle
Herbert Dean Scott Jr., 49, of Burien, Washington
Rafael Ramirez, 49, Pacific, Washington
Cesar Arambula, 39, of Kent, Washington
Raul Barreto Bejines, 50, of Redmond, Washington
Jorge Aguilar Duran, 42, Issaquah, Washington
Viet Phi Nguyen, 34, of Seattle
Two people were arrested this morning who are being charged separately by criminal complaint. Two of the indicted defendants are still being sought by law enforcement.
Earlier this month, a 13th defendant was arrested and indicted. Kendle Hawkins, 31, of Goodyear, Arizona was arrested June 14, 2021 with 50,000 fentanyl tainted pills, five firearms and two silencers.
“The recent rise of violent crime – specifically crimes involving the trafficking of firearms and illegal drugs – is of great concern to the Seattle Police Department, which is why the SPD values its partnerships with federal and local law enforcement agencies. By working together, we increase our ability to arrest dangerous offenders, get them off our streets, and weapons out of their hands,” said Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz. “Our joint efforts lead to the detention of 24 defendants in April. Today, we’re announcing the arrests of 12 more. Not only are these dozens of suspects off the streets, but so are dangerous narcotics, including fentanyl tablets and the tools to manufacture them. Our communities have been devastated by a recent rise in fentanyl deaths and continue to be devasted by on-going gun violence. The SPD is certain these joint efforts saved lives, and we’re gratified the many months of hard work by our officers and partners paid off.”
“Over the course of two years, more than 250 FBI employees have contributed to this investigation to fight back against this widespread drug-dealing conspiracy,” said Donald M. Voiret, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Seattle Field Office. “I am incredibly proud of the hard work of my office and our partners to remove dozens of firearms and toxic drugs such as fentanyl and cocaine from our communities.”
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF
The investigation was led by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force with key participation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Seattle Police Gang and Narcotics Units, Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
Today’s arrests and searches involved teams from FBI, DEA, Seattle Police Department, HSI, Pierce County Sheriff's Office, King County Sheriff's Office, Valley SWAT, Kent Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and Narcotics/Currency/Firearms K9 support from Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Centralia Police Department, Auburn Police Department, Renton Police Department, King County Sheriff's Office, and Tacoma Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Erin H. Becker and Lyndsie Schmalz.