Major drug bust in eastern Washington
Last updated 7/19/2019 at 10:02am
SPOKANE, Wash. – Early in the morning of July 16, the Bureau Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) led a large-scale enforcement action targeting a methamphetamine and heroin drug trafficking organization with ties to a Washington State based street gang identified as the Eastside Familia Norteno (ESF). Over 300 law enforcement officials, including federal agents and state and local officers executed 19 federal search warrants located in Grant, Yakima and Adams Counties.
On July 10, 2019, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Washington returned an indictment charging 16 individuals for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin. The lead defendants in this case are Luis Manuel Farias-Carendas, 40, of Moses Lake, and Joshua Isaac Stine, 34, of Ephrata, who are accused of being the leaders of the drug trafficking conspiracy. Both were taken into custody today. Twelve others named in the indictment are also in custody pending initial an appearance in federal court in Spokane, Washington. They are:
Patrick Elliot Pearson, 47, of Moses Lake; Cristian Misael Gomez, 23, of Grant County; Luis Manuel Ramirez, 25, of Moses Lake; Zacarias Martinez-Garza, 23, of Moses Lake; Mariano Ruiz-Balderas, 19, of Moses Lake; Jesse Leon Manion, Jr., 55, of Moses Lake; Heather Elaine Keating, 41, of Moses Lake; Leonel Caballero, 62, of Warden; Forrest Walker Herzog, 34, of Moses Lake; Amy Jo Dygert, 33, of Moses Lake; Michael Edward McLaughlin, 59, of Ephrata; Jesus Valencia-Morfin, 31, of Yakima.
One additional person, Tomas Gomez, 49, of Los Angeles, Calif., was also arrested during the operation and charged by federal complaint. The 15 individuals were arrested in the following cities: 11 in Moses Lake, one in Ephrata, two in Yakima, and one in Warden. At this time, agents and officers have seized pound quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, over 50 firearms and U.S. currency. This investigation is a continuation of law enforcement efforts in December 2017, which focused on violent drug traffickers who were operating in Grant County. The earlier investigation resulted in 24 individuals who have pled guilty in federal court and eight pounds of methamphetamine, 10 vehicles, $25,000 and more than 80 firearms were seized.
The following agencies provided significant assistance for today’s enforcement action: ATF,, DEA, USBP, United States Marshal’s Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Grant County Sheriff’s Office, Moses Lake Police Department, Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team, Washington State Patrol, Idaho State Police, Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Law Enforcement Against Drugs, Yakima Police Department, Columbia River Drug Task Force, North Central Washington Narcotics Task Force, Warden Police Department, Ephrata Police Department and Quincy Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Caitlin Baunsgard, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.
An indictment contains mere allegations that an individual has committed a crime. Every individual is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.