Multiple Homes Raided In Spokane - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

UPDATE: Multiple Homes Raided In The Northwest, Including Spokane

Photo from the 1600 block of east Mallon Photo from the 1600 block of east Mallon

SPOKANE, Wash. - On Thursday Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, joined today by Spokane Chief of Police Scott Stephens, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, Spokane Valley Chief of Police Richard VanLeuven, Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste, FBI Seattle Special Agent-in-Charge Laura M. Laughlin, ATF Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Doug Dawson, and United States Marshal Craig Thayer announced the results of a joint law enforcement operation targeting gang activity across eastern Washington and northern Oregon.

Over a dozen indictments were unsealed which charge numerous counts of distribution of methamphetamine and other drugs against members and associates of various gangs and drug organizations.

Some were charged as convicted felons in possession of firearms. The sealed indictments were returned on December 20, 2011, by a federal grand jury. Thursday morning during a massive law enforcement operation involving more than 100 federal, state and local authorities, over two dozen defendants were arrested in the Spokane area, Kennewick, Prosser, Walla Walla and Weston, Oregon. Another 4 were arrested on state charges. Authorities continue to search for others.

Over 25 federal search warrants were executed in connection with these arrests. Law enforcement seized over 8 pounds of methamphetamine, 40 firearms, one grenade, an estimated $150,000 in currency and valuables, and ten vehicles.

Thursday's operation caps another months-long investigation conducted by the Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team and partner agencies. This case was made possible by a time-tested and progressive law enforcement model, in which federal authorities work shoulder-to-shoulder with their local and state counterparts to investigate and dismantle gang-related and other violent criminal enterprises.

"Without a close, daily working relationship among our local, state and federal authorities, such a cohesive, effective effort to staunch an expanding wave of organized criminal activity would be impossible," said U.S. Attorney Mike Ormsby.

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Laura M. Laughlin noted "As we all know, across this country, and in eastern Washington, violent gang culture has become a part of the daily lives of teachers and taxi drivers, police officers and pastors, parents and children.

The siren song of gang life lulls too many of our youth into lives of crime, drugs, and violence. The FBI remains committed to protecting our community by ensuring that members of these criminal enterprises are held fully accountable by our justice system."

"Sadly, far too many Spokane citizens are impacted by violent criminal enterprises, and the harm they inflict on this community," said Spokane Chief of Police Scott Stephens. "We cannot allow this, and so the fight against the violence, theft and addiction wrought by these groups will remain one of the top priorities of the Spokane Police Department.

This investigation reflects the fundamental importance of close, personal cooperation between law enforcement partners, and the dividends that such intelligence driven teamwork can generate, especially in an era of diminishing resources."

"Nearly six years ago our law enforcement community determined there was a better way to rid our community of violent gang/drug crimes, and hold those who commit these crimes accountable." Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich remarked, "These indictments and arrests highlight a system where all law enforcement, local, state, and federal, have joined together as one unit to deal with violent gang and drug crimes in our community.

The Regional Gang Enforcement Team is just one example of what can be accomplished when law enforcement works together on an issue rather than worrying about jurisdictional boundaries. I can assure you, those individuals committing these crimes do not care about whose jurisdiction they are in when they commit crimes.

Our citizens are demanding a secure community where they can raise their children, work, and enjoy life without the threat of gang or drug violence. It's law enforcement's job to provide this safe and secure community, and these arrests send a clear message to individuals who would commit these crimes in our community; you will be arrested and you will be held accountable.

One of my highest priorities is to ensure law enforcement at all levels will continue working together to find better ways to keep our community safe."

ATF Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Douglas Dawson commented: "All of us have observed the tragedy and devastation that gang violence and other organized criminal activity brings to a community. Sadly, today, these groups are more violent, more organized, and more widespread than ever before.

Investigations like this continue to demonstrate that, by removing these criminals from our midst, we can continue to enjoy neighborhoods free from the gun violence and theft wrought by the illegal drug trade."

The defendants charged in the federal indictments are as follows:

Charles M. Bell, age 63, of Spokane, WA

Michael Bell, age 40, of Spokane, WAPage -3-

Brandon B. Blanche, age 25, of Nevada

Christopher Brotherton, age 32, Walla Walla, WA

Johauna M. Byers, age 28, of Spokane, WA

Tyrone J. Carell, age 24 of Spokane, WA

William Childs, age 40, of Kennewick, WA

Donald Cummings, age 55, of Kennewick, WA

Ryan Doherty, age 24, of Spokane, WA

Christopher D. Drumgoole, age 26, of Spokane, WA

Keith Hall, age 42, of Walla Walla, WA

Joshua J. Kaczor, age 32, of Spokane, WA

Edgar Lizarraga-Felix, age 28, of Pasco, WA

David McLaughlin, age 21, of Spokane, WA

Paul L. Rios, age 30, of Spokane, WA

Amador Sanchez, age 31, of Kennewick, WA

Robert Michael Sevey, age 55, of Spokane, WA

Michael A. Shahinian, age 45, of Spokane, WA

Clayton D. Sibbett, age 42, of Weston, Oregon

Alethea Sibbett, age 38, of Weston, Oregon

Teal Nicholas Terrell, age 19, of Spokane, WA

Edward L. Thomas, age 26, of Spokane, WA

Siaosilepelenise L. Tuaimalo, age 30, of Spokane, WA

Michael Wilson, age 44, of Spokane Valley, WA

Alice Woodburn, age 49, of Spokane Valley, WA

The drug distribution charges carry potential sentences of up to 20 years imprisonment or more, while the firearm offenses carry up to 10 years imprisonment.

PREVIOUS STORY:

SPOKANE, Wash. - After a year long federal investigation officers from multiple departments served dozens of warrants this morning all over the region.

That investigation, led by the Spokane Violent Crimes Gang Enforcement Team, reached a head around 6:00 this morning. That's when groups of officers struck at multiple different locations.

Around Spokane we have received reports of SWAT/police activity at the 1600 block of east Mullan, the 1600 block of east Lacrosse, 1200 block of north Oak and in Airway Heights near Hwy 2 and Rambo rd.

No word yet on the specifics of the investigation but we expect to learn all the details this afternoon. A press conference will be held at the Federal Building today at 3:00 p.m. where we should learn more details.

KHQ's Blake Jensen was told there were 80-100 officers involved in this massive bust.

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