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11 people arrested in Washington, California in connection with cartel drug trafficking

The arrests in Washington and California followed six arrests in September. The suspects are connected to three drug trafficking groups.

SEATTLE — Eleven people were arrested Tuesday and face federal charges for their connection to the trafficking of more than 1,000 of methamphetamine and hundreds of thousands of fentanyl pills.

The arrests in Washington and California followed six arrests in September. The suspects are connected to three drug trafficking groups.

“These individuals were bringing large loads of meth, heroin, fentanyl and cocaine from Mexico across the border and up I-5 to the Pacific Northwest,” said U.S. Attorney Brown. “Even when an RV loaded with drugs was pulled off the highway and seized by law enforcement, they weren’t deterred."

According to Brown, a wiretap revealed various organizations "continued to recruit drivers and vehicles to transport their drugs throughout" the region.

On Tuesday, law enforcement seized more than 2 kilos of fentanyl, 4.5 kilos of heroin, 10 pounds of methamphetamine and 67 firearms. A total of 14 locations were searched, including in Seattle neighborhoods.

Prior to Tuesday's search of 14 locations in Washington and California, drug, guns and cash seized by law enforcement included: 1,016 pounds of meth; 9 kilos of fentanyl powder and 330,000 fentanyl pills; 25 kilos of cocaine; and 15.5 kilos of heroin. Law enforcement seized 43 guns and more than $1 million, according to the US Attorney's Office.

The pills alone would be enough to kill more than 132,000 people, said Jacob Galvan, action special agent in charge of the DEA's Seattle division.

"To put that into perspective, that's the amount of people it would take to fill Lumen Field, twice," he said.

Those named in the indictments unsealed Tuesday include:

  • Jose Paleo, 29, of La Mirada, California
  • Octavio Guzman, 24, of Huntington Park, California
  • Glauco Guardado Rodriguez, 25, of Seattle
  • Araceli Salas, 30, of Maywood, California
  • Maria Rangel Aguilar, 44, of Huntington Park, California
  • Miguel Thomas, 33, of Tukwila, Washington
  • Tad Fulton, 48, of Seattle
  • Ryan Holmquist, 34, of Issaquah, Washington
  • Timothy Hursh, 38, of SeaTac, Washington
  • Ryan Terry, 44, of Duval, Washington
  • Abel Cruz, 32, of Des Moines, Washington

Six defendants were arrested earlier on a September 21, 2022, indictment include:

  • Agustin Gutierrez Valencia, 32, of Kent, Washington
  • Daniel Vazquez Arroyo, 32, of Kent, Washington
  • Rosalio Reynoso Arellano, 51, of Los Angeles
  • Ernesto Casillas, 46, of Los Angeles
  • Benigno Hernandez aka Ivan Santos Arellano, 32, of Kent, Washington
  • Jesus Toledo Pardo, 56, of SeaTac, Washington

The suspects are charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute. Because of the amount of drugs involved, some face the mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.

Some are also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. 

One person is charged with carrying a firearm in relation to drug trafficking, which could lead to an enhanced sentence.

Watch: Pierce County Sheriff's Office warns of 'rainbow fentanyl' 

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