Six men were charged in a Seattle federal court for drug and gun crimes in Whatcom and Skagit counties, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
The investigation began in April when investigators saw two of the men meeting at a Whatcom County casino. Law enforcement eventually seized 20,000 fentanyl pills, more than three pounds of methamphetamine, fentanyl powder, more than $30,000 in cash and seven firearms, according to the Wednesday, Nov. 30, news release.
"Drug trafficking organizations are spreading fentanyl pills throughout our district - from rural areas to urban centers," said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.
In searches of eight locations Wednesday, law enforcement seized "a kilo of cocaine and a kilo of fentanyl powder, a huge number of fentanyl pills and additional firearms."
The Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed one of those search locations was in Bellingham, where three were arrested at a house near York and Iron streets, according to spokeswoman Alison Grande.
The alleged members of a drug distribution conspiracy, according to the news release, are:
▪ Enoc Martinez Lopez, aka "Victor," 27, of Marysville, who is suspected of being the main supplier of drugs to others. He was charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, distribution of controlled substances (including heroin and fentanyl), and distribution of fentanyl.
▪ Adam Wisniewski, 41, of Bellingham was charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, as well as two counts of illegal possession of firearms. He was arrested with more than 1,000 fentanyl pills, fentanyl powder and a firearm, which he cannot legally possess due to a 2011 felony drug possession conviction in Whatcom County.
▪ Manuel Garcia Munoz, 21, of Marysville was charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and distribution of heroin for a June sale of heroin to a person working with law enforcement.
▪ Casey Landis, 39, of Bellingham was charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute including methamphetamine and fentanyl. In October, he left a fanny pack on a casino counter that was found to contain fentanyl and meth, according to the news release. An analysis of his phone found "extensive drug trafficking text messages with drug supplier Martinez Lopez and with drug customers."
▪ Jesse Witteveen, 37, of Maple Falls was charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute. The criminal complaint alleges that on Nov. 1, 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.
▪ Corbin Saunders, 43, of Bellingham was charged with unlawful possession of firearms. Saunders is the owner of a Tesla that was observed leaving a known drug-involved residence in Bellingham. The vehicle was stopped, and a drug dog alerted that it detected the odor of drugs in the vehicle. Methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin were found, along with an AR-15 style rifle and a 9mm handgun, according to the news release. Saunders cannot legally possess firearms due to felony convictions for theft and forgery and convictions for possession of heroin and methamphetamine in Whatcom County.
The investigation was led by the DEA's Bellingham office, 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, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington State Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other agencies.