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Police seize 22 pounds of meth, arrest 20 in Portland-based distribution ring

COURTESY PHOTO: U.S. ATTORNEYS OFFICE DISTRICT OF OREGON - Gresham Police were involved in a massive drug operation bust that netted 22 pounds of methamphetamine, four ounces of heroin, 11 ounces of cocaine, and seven firearms. A coordinated, multi-agency law enforcement operation helped dismantle a vast international drug trafficking organization that distributed methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine across the region.

Federal search warrants were executed at 13 locations — resulting in the seizure of 22 pounds of methamphetamine, four ounces of heroin, 11 ounces of cocaine, and seven firearms, as well as the arrests of 20 people. Those arrested join 10 others who are already in custody on related charges.

The 60-count indictment was unsealed Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 2, by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon.

"At its peak, this network was bringing more than 130 pounds of methamphetamine and heroin into the Portland area every week— nearly 600,000 individual user doses," said U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams. "This country and communities in Oregon are drowning in deadly substance abuse."

The case was investigated by the Gresham Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and the FBI.

"We are very proud of the hard work and commitment by our detectives, as well as the cooperation from our law enforcement partners," said Gresham Chief of Police Robin Sells. "As a result of the hard work between these agencies, arrests were made and literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in narcotics are off the streets."

The indictment alleges that beginning November 2018, two men, Samuel Diaz and Faustino Monroy, organized, led and ran a group responsible for bringing hundreds of pounds of illegal narcotics into the region for resale. The estimated wholesale value was $15 million.

Diaz and Monroy, who both remain at large in Mexico, allegedly worked closely with two Portland-based associates — Edgar Omar Quiroz Rodriguez and Gerson Fernando Martinez-Cruz. According to police, Quiroz and Martinez-Cruz ran a Portland distribution cell that, at its peak, was responsible for distributing as much as 77 pounds of meth and 55 pounds of heroin every week.

Police said the supplies were kept in stash houses throughout the metro area where they were processed and prepared for sale. A large network of local drug dealers would then distribute the drugs.

Law enforcement said members of the organization obtained rifles and handguns in the U.S. and attempted to transport them to associates in Mexico to strengthen and protect its activities. Prior to Wednesday's takedown, investigators had seized 44 firearms including assault rifles, shotguns and handguns.

Police said the group used a Southeast Portland mini market called Tienda Mexicana Gonzalez Inc., also known as the Gonzalez Bros. Market, to launder their proceeds via international electronic money wires. According to law enforcement, those wires were structured using low-denomination transfers to avoid triggering suspicious activity alerts.

Court documents show in total, the organization's drug trafficking and money laundering efforts netted more than $1 million in less than one year.

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