MOSES LAKE — Fifteen people were arrested Tuesday in Central Washington during a large-scale drug bust involving 300 officers and led by federal law enforcement agencies.
Two officers and a suspect were wounded in an exchange of gunfire during the operation, the Spokesman-Review reported. The officers were treated and released from a hospital and the suspect, who authorities said shot himself, was seriously injured, the Spokesman reported.
Members of a methamphetamine and heroin trafficking street gang called the Eastside Familia Norteno were targeted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A federal grand jury in the Eastern District Court of Washington charged 16 people July 10 with conspiracy to distribute meth and heroin, the U.S. Attorney in Spokane said in a Tuesday news release.
Eleven were in Moses Lake, two in Yakima, one in Ephrata and one in Warden, and a 16th was arrested in Los Angeles.
Authorities say the gang was led by Luis Manuel Farias-Carendas, 40, of Moses Lake, and Joshua Isaac Stine, 34, of Ephrata.
Authorities also arrested Michael Edward McLaughlin, 59, of Ephrata; Patrick Elliot Pearson, 47, of Moses Lake; Luis Manuel Ramirez, 25, of Moses Lake; Zacarias Martinez-Garza, 23, of Moses Lake; Mariano Ruiz-Balderas, 19, of Moses Lake; Jesse Leon Manion Jr., 55, of Moses Lake; Heather Elaine Keating, 41, of Moses Lake; Forrest Walker Herzog, 34, of Moses Lake; Amy Joe Dygert, 33, of Moses Lake; Leonel Caballero, 62, of Warden; Cristian Misael Gomez, 23, of Grant County; Jesus Valenica-Morfin, 31, of Yakima; and Tomas Gomez, 49, of Los Angeles.
Since the investigation began in December 2017, authorities have seized 8 pounds of meth, 10 vehicles, $25,000 and more than 80 firearms, and 24 people pleaded guilty in federal court to drug trafficking-related charges, according to the news release.
More than 300 law enforcement officers from 19 agencies served search warrants and made arrests in Grant, Yakima and Adams counties.
Involved in Tuesday’s operation were 19 agencies, including the ATF, DEA, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations and Bureau of Indian Affairs. Local and state agencies included Grant County Sheriff’s Office, Moses Lake Police Department, Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team, Washington State Patrol, Idaho State Police, Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Law Enforcement Against Drugs, Yakima Police Department, Columbia River Drug Task Force, North Central Washington Narcotics Task Force, Warden Police Department, Ephrata Police Department and Quincy Police Department.