LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

A Kent man sits at the center of a federal investigation, accused of being the linchpin in a oxycodone trafficking organization that spanned from Washington to California.

Police from Puget Sound to Oakland arrested 24 individuals Tuesday, including Herman J. Roche, 43.

He was the head dog and we took the head dog out, said FBI Assistant Spec. Agent Steven Dean.

Roche and the network of accused traffickers were under surveillance for as long as two years in the investigation titled Operation Pee-Wee's Playhouse.

Agents said Roche sold thousands of oxycodone pills across the region. As many as 5,000 pills at a time were picked up in California by other suspects and then transported to the Seattle area for sale.

The ring was targeted at a time when violent crime has increased in Seattle neighborhoods, specifically around Rainier Beach.

I believe these arrests will improve conditions in those neighborhoods, said Deputy Seattle Police Chief NickMetz.

There is a clear connection between drug dealing and violent crime, said U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan.

Other suspects were arrested in Seattle, Tukwila, Spanaway, Renton, Tacoma, as well as Oakland and Stockton, California. Their ages range from 24 to 48 years old.

The investigation was a joint effort between the FBI and Seattle Police, as well as 10 other local partners, involving about 100 law enforcement officers.

In addition to pills, 20 firearms and an estimated $40,000 were seized during the arrests.

All 24 suspects will make a first appearance in federal court Tuesday.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.king5.com/story/news/crime/2014/08/03/13155564/