3:50 p.m. KLAMATH FALLS — More than 300 local, state and federal officers, some in camouflage gear and helmets, fanned out across rural Klamath County in the pre-dawn darkness today and arrested 30 people accused of operating a methamphetamine and gun distribution network connected to Mexican drug cartels.
Darin Tweedt, chief counsel of the criminal division of the Oregon Department of Justice, said the raids were the culmination of an eight-month investigation dubbed Operation Trojan Horse. It started last October when agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives came to the state criminal division with information about the ring. State authorities enlisted the help of local authorities and other federal agencies, and the investigation snowballed.
“We have evidence that shows they are linked to the cartels,” Tweedt said of those arrested. “The goal of this particular operation was to send a pretty clear signal that we are not neglecting to enforce narcotics laws in rural Oregon counties. We cast a pretty wide net.”
In the course of searching 23 homes and businesses in Klamath Falls and outlying rural communities, police also seized 4 pounds of methamphetamine and 25 guns.
“This operation takes a big group of suspected meth dealers off our streets,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement.
Nearly all of the methamphetamine and heroin available in Oregon comes through Mexico, said Chris Gibson, Oregon director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. Mexican gangs are also responsible for most of the large marijuana being grown illegally on remote national forest lands in Oregon.
The agency’s statistics showed that seizures of methamphetamine and guns in Oregon have been trending upward since 2008, along with drug arrests. Seizures of marijuana and cocaine are down. And seizures of heroin and prescription drugs are up.
Tweedt refused to comment on whether the ring was connected to the killing last fall of two California men whose bodies were found buried on an abandoned ranch outside the rural community of Bonanza, where some of the arrests were carried out. The slain men were identified as Ricardo Jauregui, 38, of Oakley, Calif., and Everado Mendez-Ceja, 32, of Richmond, Calif. They had told their families they were going to Oregon to buy a horse and hay. Their truck was burned.
KLAMATH FALLS — More than 300 law enforcement officers swept across Klamath County early this morning arresting 30 people and seizing four pounds of methamphetamine and 25 guns.
Dubbed "Operation Trojan Horse," the coordinated raids were described as an effort to dismantle a drug and weapons distribution ring uncovered after a double killing last year in Klamath County.
The raids began about 3 a.m., as officers used flash-bang grenades and forced entries to make arrests and serve dozens of search warrants.
By 7 a.m. dozens of people were in custody. The Klamath County Jail planned to open an unused wing to house them.
Officers came from local, state and federal agencies.
A Oregon Department of Justice release said "Today's events mark one of the largest one-day round-ups of drug suspects in recent Oregon law enforcement history."
Officials also said evidence has been found linking the local meth ring to Mexican drug cartels.
Last fall, two Californians were found shot to death near Bonanza, east of Klamath Falls. Initially, they were reported to have gone there to buy hay and a horse. Prosecutors later said they were after drugs.
— Associated Press
Information from the Klamath Falls Herald and News.