Joint Operation Targets Drug Distribution Ring in Whatcom, Skagit, and Snohomish Counties
Fentanyl Pills, Fentanyl Powder, Heroin, Meth, and Cash Seized
SEATTLE – Six members of a drug distribution conspiracy operating in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties are charged federally with various drug and firearms crimes. On Wednesday, in searches of eight locations in Whatcom and Snohomish Counties, law enforcement seized: 85,000 fentanyl pills, 2.3 kilograms fentanyl powder, 6.2 kilograms methamphetamine, 1.1 kilograms heroin, 5.1 kilograms cocaine, two guns, $185,000 U.S. currency, and three vehicles.
The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bellingham Resident Office (DEA), working with the Whatcom County Drug and Gang Task Force, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, the Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington State Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force, the CBP Air & Marine Operations, the Lummi Police Department, the Everson Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.
“The results of this sweeping law enforcement operation show that the DEA, in close collaboration with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners, continue our collective commitment to safeguard our communities from the dangers of fentanyl poisoning by individuals who attempt to sell fake pills, often times doing so while armed,” said Jacob D. Galvan, Acting Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division. “This successful joint law enforcement operation has ensured these dangerous drugs, weapons, and dealers have been taken off our streets, ultimately making the communities we all live in safer places for everyone.”
Enoc Martinez Lopez, aka “Victor,” 27, of Marysville, Washington, was the main supplier of drugs to other co-conspirators. He is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, distribution of controlled substances (including heroin and fentanyl), and distribution of fentanyl. Martinez Lopez appeared in U.S. District Court on Wednesday and has a detention hearing scheduled for tomorrow.
“Drug trafficking organizations are spreading fentanyl pills throughout our district – from rural areas to urban centers,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “I commend the coordinated efforts in Whatcom and Skagit Counties to expeditiously interdict these potentially deadly drugs.”
The criminal complaint details how various defendants interacted with supplier Martinez Lopez and other drug customers. In April 2022, investigators initially saw Martinez Lopez meeting with another defendant at the Silver Reef Casino in Whatcom County. That defendant was later arrested with more than 1,000 fentanyl pills, fentanyl powder and a firearm. The defendant was arrested again in June 2022 with two firearms and fentanyl pills.
Defendant Manuel Garcia Munoz, 21, of Marysville, Washington is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and distribution of heroin for a June 2022 sale of heroin.
Defendant Casey Landis, 39, of Bellingham, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute including methamphetamine and fentanyl. In October 2022, Landis left a fanny pack on a counter at Silver Reef Casino that was found to contain fentanyl and meth. An analysis of Landis phone revealed extensive drug trafficking text messages with drug supplier Martinez Lopez and with drug customers.
Defendant Jesse Witteveen, 37, of Maple Falls, Washington, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute. The criminal complaint alleges that on November 1, 2022, Witteveen tried to flee from police and tossed a bag of drugs out of his car window before he was taken into custody in rural Whatcom County. A search of Witteveen’s car and residence turned up fentanyl pills, meth, multiple cell phones, firearms parts, and ammunition.
The other defendants will make their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Seattle over the next few days.
Earlier in the investigation law enforcement seized: 20,000 fentanyl pills, more than three pounds of methamphetamine, some fentanyl powder, more than $30,000 in cash, and seven firearms.
This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Hobbs.