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News Release
October 21, 2004

Crack & Guns Seized in Spokane Drug Sweep

OCT 22-- Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge announced that a law enforcement coalition consisting of the Spokane DEA Task Force, Washington State Patrol, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshal’s Service executed Federal arrest and search warrants targeting crack cocaine distributors in the greater Spokane metropolitan area.

The Spokane DEA Task Force coordinated investigative efforts with the Spokane County Sheriffs Office and Spokane Police Department to disrupt and dismantle street gangster organizations by targeting the sole source of the gangster’s income, “crack cocaine.”

This four month Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation focused on purchasing crack cocaine from street dealers in the greater Spokane area. In addition, investigators identified individuals who controlled multiple retail crack cocaine dealers.

On Wednesday, October 20, 2004 law enforcement officers armed with Federal indictment warrants and 6 search warrants arrested 17 individuals for distribution of crack cocaine. These arrests resulted in the seizure of 8 handguns, one kilogram of cocaine and one kilogram of crack cocaine.

The individuals arrested on Federal charges will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Washington and made their initial court appearance before U.S. Judge Michael W. Leavitt on Wednesday, October 20, 2004.

U.S. Attorney James McDevitt praised the teamwork of the many law enforcement agencies that contributed to this investigation. “It’s clear that that multi-agency cooperation can and does result in significant disruption of crack cocaine trafficking organizations as well as the impact on the community. This operation could not have succeeded without the hard work and dedication of the Agents and Officers from all of the participating agencies.”

Rodney G. Benson, DEA Special Agent in Charge stated that, “Experience has shown that arresting individuals who are responsible for drug trafficking and drug-related violence can and does have a positive result on overall crime rates. DEA understands that cooperation among law enforcement is the essential ingredient for a recipe of success. Working with state and local law enforcement partners across this region continues to result in successful approaches to crime and drug trafficking problems that plague far too many communities.”

Lieutenant Richard Wiley, Washington State Patrol, Investigative Assistant Division stated that, “Participation in multi-jurisdictional Task Forces, specifically building partnerships among Federal, State and Local law enforcement is what drives intensive investigations that have — a direct impact on crime in our community. This is why the Washington State Patrol participates in these types of Task Forces, another job well done.”

Sheriff Mark K. Sterk, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office stated that, “This investigation is another example of the relationship that law enforcement has with DEA in Spokane. Enforcement Operations such as this will send a clear message to the hard core gang members in our community, if you are coming to Spokane to sell drugs we are going to relentlessly come after you until you are tired of going to jail.”

Chief Roger D. Bragdon, Spokane Police Department state that, “We are fortunate to live in a community were various branches of law enforcement - - - local, state, and federal - - - cooperate to make all of us safer, this is just the latest example of that spirit at work in the field.”

Following the press conference a list of the arrested individuals will be provided to the media.

The arrested individuals should be considered innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.



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