PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Forty-one people have been indicted by a grand jury in a massive Mexican drug smuggling and money laundering operation.

Investigators said hundreds of pounds of meth, heroin and cocaine were brought up from Mexico for distribution around the greater Portland area, worth more than $15 million.

United States Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy J. Williams made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, along with partners from Gresham Police, Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI.

Wednesday alone, Williams said 13 search warrants were executed in the case and 20 people were arrested, on top of another 10 people already in custody.

The Chief of the Gresham Police Department said the investigation began a year ago when confidential informants came forward to a detective, launching a case that only grew in scope and depth.

Investigators said two drug traffickers in Mexico worked closely with two Portland-based cell leaders to run the operation, which included a network of drug dealers, stash houses, couriers, drop phones and a mini-market in SE Portland where drug money was laundered through international wire transfers.

According to court records, the drugs were sold in the Portland area as well as Longview and Kelso.

Investigators said the group’s top bosses are still on the run in Mexico, but two Portland-based leaders – Edgar Omar Quiroz Rodriguez and Gerson Fernando Martinez-Cruz -- are among those behind bars.

Also at the center of the investigation: a southeast market called Tienda Mexicana Gonzalez Inc.

Police said the owners, Jesus Gonzalez Vazquez and Juan Antonio Romo, acted as money launders and wired drug proceeds to Mexico and other areas of the U.S.

Wednesday evening, the closed sign caught some customers off-guard. Some told Fox 12 they would never have imagined anything suspicious at the store.

But one nearby neighbor said she only shopped there once.

“It’s not a place where you would probably go first, if you wanted to go and grab something immediately, even though it’s a convenience store,” said Nicole King. “It was just very dark, very dirty.”

So far, the evidence seized in the case includes $250,000 in cash, 51 guns and more than 100 pounds of drugs.

Williams says this marks one of the largest take-downs of a drug trafficking organization in the history of our state.

“The risks this organization exposed our community to cannot be over-stated,” US Attorney Williams said. “For now, this network no longer operates in the Portland area and it’s largely thanks to [Gresham Police] Chief Sells and the Gresham Police Department.”

Investigators say many of these criminals will now be facing lengthy prison sentences that may include life.

Some high-ranking leaders of this operation are still on the run and are considered fugitives who are believed to be in Mexico. Investigators are working to track them down as the case moves forward.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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(14) comments

Jefferson

"So far, the evidence seized in the case includes $250,000 in cash, 51 guns and more than 100 pounds of drugs." 51 guns? and is anybody tracing them?


Terrell Higgs

Without ICE no question this would not have gone down. And yet Portland wants to eliminate ICE, bans they from facilities, does not agree with their policies (which is Federal law btw)


Dean

Build the wall,enough already!


lue c4

why are they saying this is the largest? seems rather minor compared to the recent opiod bust of the sackler family...perhaps they mean largest of non white people?


Just curious

Yep. I totally agree, go after the "Sackler's".


Grammysam

Once we clean out the swamp in Portland, the "sanctuary state" name will, hopefully be eliminated in all of the swamps in America, so we wont have to utilize other alternatives to deal with the illegal alien problem. Send them all to our current equivalent of Ellis Island, and let them become proper American citizens. It means no more law violations, adherence to the U.S. Constitution, Bill of rights, and follow all the rules. If they WANT to become Americans, more power to them! If they are simply here because they want something for nothing, dispose of them at the border.


SanchezB

Just FYI, about half of the people on that list are actually not Mexican.


Just curious

I totally agree.


SherryLiebe

Names please?


SanchezB

Cannot give you the names, but i have seen the case and about half are white citizens. So stop trying to pin this all on Mexico. It is both our problems and we need to act together!


Merlin

Why is Oregon law enforcement cooperating operation? We are, after all, a sanctuary State!


Lawlessness Brings Destruction

It may be the order in which things happened. First, an informant goes to Gresham PD and the scope of the investigation then enlarged to jurisdiction of DHS/ICE since it involved international money transfers and stuff coming across the border. The above facts and the fact this cooperation didn't happen at the request of ICE may be a fortuitous and needed loophole.







It should be obvious from this that cooperation with ICE is a BIG factor in taking drugs off the street and fighting crime, especially when you consider the crime issues related to the cartel drug trade...which most likely drives the bulk of the PNW domestic drug trade via super labs in Mexico and distribution via the I-5 corridor.



This bust will put a dent in the supply in the Little Town of Methlahem aka Longview, WA.







Illegal immigration and the transnational drug trade are not a "race" any more than money laundering is. Enforcing the rule of law is not "racism". Lawlessness does not = "compassion".


SanchezB

Sanctuary state does not mean what you think it means. Also half the people indicted are not Mexican.


Lawlessness Brings Destruction

As you have said numerous times and I think people "get" it.











The unseen half of this are the Democrat and RINO obstructionists in Congress paid by the cartels to keep the border unsecured. The layers of sanctuary policies are a force multiplier in achieving non-enforcement of our immigration laws.











We are not a "nation of immigrants", we a nation of laws.


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