An investigation that began with drug seizures by the Bremerton Police Department 18 months ago culminated in a multi-state raid Wednesday and Thursday that saw more than 400 federal, state a local law enforcement officers arrest more than 30 people and seize large quantities of illegal drugs, weapons and cash, according to a Justice Department statement released December 6.
What was described as a multistate narcotics ring was led by drug cartel members in Mexico and was helped by a money laundering business based in Manhattan Beach, Calif., according to law enforcement officials. Heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine were distributed in seven states including counties throughout Washington, according to the relaese.
The Bremerton Police Department had more than 20 officers engaged in the drug sweeps on Wednesday and Thursday, BPD Lt. Kevin Crane said.
“It started with a local drug investigation here in Bremerton, and quickly expanded,” he said. “Once it got to a level beyond our means, we reached out to the DEA.”
Drug Enforcement Agency offices in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Phoenix were involved in the drug busts that saw approximately 9,500 grams of heroin, 200 grams of methamphetamine and more than 1,000 fentanyl pills seized, Crane said.
Officers confiscated more than 13 pounds of heroin from the compartment of a truck “driven by a frequent smuggler for the ring,” on November 28, the Justice Department said.
Crane said law enforcement officers seized more than 30 firearms and $100,000 in cash in the arrests, which followed a lengthy investigation that saw coded cell phone conversations and intercepted social media communications, according to the Justice Department.
BPD officers said the investigation into the multi-million dollar operation continues.
“We’re going to be working on this for a long time,” Crane said.
Gregory D. Werber, the owner of the Manhattan Beach company that allegedly helped launder money for the drug operation using cryptocurrency, was arrested and appeared in federal court in the Central District of California on Thursday. Other suspects are being prosecuted in the Western District of Washington courthouse in Tacoma.
United States Attorneys Marci Ellsworth and Karyn Johnson are the lead prosecutors.
“I am very proud of the hard work and dedication of all the officers and agents that made this operation a reality,” BPD police chief James Burchett said.