Coordinated law enforcement operations destroy cells of transnational drug trafficking in the Portland area | USAO-OR
PORTLAND, Oregon. – In August and October 2021, coordinated law enforcement operations against two transnational drug trafficking cells in the Portland area resulted in the arrest of the cell’s leaders and more than a dozen employees, as well as the seizure of around 200,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills suspected of fentanyl, two pounds of fentanyl – Contains powder, 40 pounds of methamphetamine, 45 pounds of heroin, 13 pounds of cocaine, nine firearms and more than $ 1.4 million in drug receipts.
“At a time when communities across the country continue to suffer from the dire effects of the opioid addiction crisis, there are some people who want to benefit from the pain and fear of others. The drug trafficking cells affected by this investigation are some of the worst we’ve seen in Oregon. Counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl pose a serious risk of fatal overdose not matched by any other type of commonly available street drug, ”said Acting US Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug. “I applaud the many law enforcement agencies who have played a role in bringing the leaders and staff of these two cells to justice. Our communities are safer thanks to your efforts. “
“This investigation resulted in the arrests of people with ties to Mexico and the substantial seizures of drugs, including dangerous counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, weapons and US currency. The DEA worked with several law enforcement partners across Oregon, including the Tualatin Police Department, Oregon City Police Department, Tigard Police Department, and the Portland Police Bureau. The breakup of this international drug trafficking organization is an example of how effective law enforcement investigations can be when we work together to make our communities safer, ”said Cam Strahm, deputy special envoy for the US Drugs Agency in Oregon.
The two takedown operations, led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), came after nearly 12 months of investigation and federal charges against the two cell leaders and more than a dozen key employees. At the start of the investigation, the authorities assumed they were investigating a single drug trafficking cell. In the course of the investigation, federal agents discovered that two men – Jesus Miramontes-Castaneda, 31, from Los Angeles, California, and Horacio Luna-Perez, 39, from Hillsboro, Oregon – operated separate drug trafficking cells that were loosely connected to common sources of supply and Distribution networks.
Both cells procured large quantities of oxycodone, heroin, methamphetamine, and other illicit drugs from supply sources in California and elsewhere, and used vehicles to transport the large quantities of drugs to Oregon. Once in Oregon, the drugs were taken to warehouses where they were processed and prepared for sale. A large network of local drug dealers would then distribute the quantities of each drug used. The cells routinely switched locations and rotated vehicles and phones to avoid detection by law enforcement.
On August 11, 2021, a federal grand jury in Portland brought four counts indicting Miramontes-Castaneda and five employees of conspiracy to transport large quantities of heroin and methamphetamine from California for distribution in the metropolitan area of Portland and Salem, Oregon were areas. The Miramontes-Castaneda cell distributed narcotics in Salem and the greater Portland area. Miramontes-Castaneda and several of its employees were arrested during the first takedown operation on August 12, 2021.
On September 14, Luna-Perez and nine employees were charged with four charges of conspiracy to possess the property with intent to distribute heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine. Much like Miramontes-Castaneda, Luna-Perez’s cell imported large quantities of counterfeit oxycodone, heroin, and methamphetamine from California for distribution in and around Portland and east Washington. Luna-Perez’s cell also had ties to drug traffickers in Colorado and California. On October 7, 2021, the second takedown operation was targeted at Luna-Perez’s cell. Luna-Perez and several employees were arrested during the operation.
Luna-Perez’s brother and trafficking agent – Ricardo Luna-Perez, 41 – made his first appearance in the Oregon County before a U.S. judge in Portland today after his arrest on October 26, 2021 in Vancouver, Washington. He has been detained pending a ten-day trial, due to begin on December 7, 2021. Ricardo Luna-Perez is the 18th trial.
Conspiracy to distribute and possess the drug with the intention of distributing heroin, methamphetamine or fentanyl in these quantities is punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years.
The acting US attorney Scott Erik Asphaug from the District of Oregon announced.
This case has been investigated by the DEA with assistance from Oregon State Police, Portland Police Bureau, Tigard Police Department, Clackamas County Interagency Task Force (CCITF) including affiliates of the Canby Police Department, Oregon City Police Department and Tualatin Police Department; and Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE). It is being prosecuted by the US District Attorney’s Office.
This case is part of a strike force initiative of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). This common model enables agents from different agencies to work together on multi-jurisdictional intelligence operations to disrupt and dismantle major drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations.
An indictment is just an accusation of a crime and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
Fentanyl and heroin are the leading causes of overdose deaths in the United States. If you or someone you know has addiction, please call the Lines for Life Substance Abuse Helpline at 1-800-923-4357 or visit www.linesforlife.org. Telephone support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also text “RecoveryNow” to 839863 between 8:00 AM and 11:00 PM Pacific Time each day.