16,000 fentanyl pills, pounds of meth, heroin seized in bust

Eight suspects were indicted in U.S. District Court in Seattle, including five from Snohomish County.

SEATTLE — Federal agents have made another series of arrests in a drug pipeline that stretches from Mexico to Snohomish County — and that is active even in the midst of a global pandemic.

In all, authorities seized what they believed to be 16,000 fentanyl pills, 30 pounds of meth and 6 pounds of heroin, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Eight suspects, including five from Snohomish County, were indicted Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle. They are:

• Jose Luis Ibarra-Valle, 37, of Woodinville;

• Jesus Gutierrez-Garcia, 31, of Everett;

• Humberto Garcia, 39, of Everett;

• Santos Caro, 35, of Portland, Oregon;

• Charles Hoffman, 43, of Tulalip;

• Lee Wallette, 36, of Mountlake Terrace;

• Jesus Garnica-Melgoza, 39, of Seattle;

• Tisha Girtz, 38, of Lake Stevens.

The bulk of the drugs were taken from Ibarra-Valle, a Mexican citizen living in Woodinville, who was stopped by law enforcement in Seattle on Oct. 25, according to the DOJ. He allegedly had 10,000 pills in his car believed to contain fentanyl, more than 20 pounds of suspected methamphetamine and more than 2 pounds of suspected heroin. Court-approved searches were done Wednesday morning after a wiretapping investigation.

The investigation was carried out by the DEA in partnership with several local law enforcement agencies, including the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force, the Lake Stevens and Tulalip police departments, and Washington State Patrol.

“The rising numbers of fentanyl overdoses is on the radar of all our law enforcement partners,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis. “We will continue to prioritize disrupting the illicit distribution of this dangerous narcotic within our communities.”

U.S. attorneys have indicted other Snohomish County residents with alleged connections to drug trafficking along the West Coast. That includes Travis Keel, who ran an operation out of a house east of Lynnwood, and Jeff Walker, a Bothell man who reportedly was caught with 200 pounds of cocaine while speeding in California.

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