DEA agents served a dozen federal warrants across Spokane County early Thursday morning as part of a large federal drug raid that nabbed 41 suspects, including 12 here in Spokane.
16 federal search warrants were executed in Spokane County, in addition to 30 in Los Angeles and one more in Mountlake Terrace, Wash., according to the DEA.
"Members of this ring regularly circulate between Los Angeles and Spokane to fuel their customer’s insatiable appetite and pharmaceutical addiction," said Seattle DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes.
"Today’s enforcement action is an outstanding example of the robust and effective working partnership among Federal, state, and local law enforcement," U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby for the Eastern District of Washington added.
The raids are a result of a 32-count federal indictment filed in January 2013 in the Eastern District of Washington that alleged a number of people were distributing Oxycontin in violation of the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
The raids started around 5 a.m. Thursday, when agents served a dozen warrants at residences across the county, including the following locations:
- Indiana Avenue and Lacey Street
- 14th Avenue and Raymond Road
- Buckeye Avenue and Cuba Street
- Olympic Avenue and Cincinnati Street
Indictments filed against the defendants in the case were sealed by Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno in late January against Arvin Carmen, Amber Branch, Katriel Bulley, Brandon Chavez, David Colbert, Sally Guthrie, Marlon Johnson, Harry Johnwell and Mercedes Reeves.
Amber Branch, Sally Guthrie and Marlon Johnson appeared in federal court Thursday morning, where they plead not guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
Sally Blakely Guthrie's defense attorney said Thursday morning that his client owned three businesses in Spokane. Public records indicate that a Sally Blakely Guthrie is listed as the owner of three Flamin' Joe's restaurants in north Spokane, Spokane Valley and on the South Hill.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Thursday afternoon if Guthrie is part of the ring responsible for bringing Oxycontin into our area, it would make her part of the driving force behind a lot of Spokane's property crimes.
"Oxycontin is one of the most addictive drugs that we see out on the streets," Knezovich said. "It's become a major problem in the Spokane area and it relates to a lot of the property crimes that we see."
Some of the suspects arrested in Thursday's raids face mandatory minimum sentences of 20 years in prison if convicted. Federal authorities also filed a notice of criminal forfeiture of $20 million, the amount the government contends is the proceeds as a result of the illegal distribution of controlled substances.
The raids were part of an ongoing investigation conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and was conducted by the DEA's Seattle and Los Angeles offices, Los Angeles Police Department and Spokane Regional Drug Task Force. 20 different law enforcement agencies in Spokane and Los Angeles assisted in the Thursday morning raids, including the Spokane Police Department and Spokane County Sheriff's Office.
"Today’s operation is another fine example of the outstanding partnerships that have been forged between agencies who are committed to ridding our communities of violent organized criminals who prey on our City," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said.