After seizing 76 pounds of meth, more than 230,000 fentanyl tablets, and thousands of dollars in cash, police indicted eight suspected narcotics traffickers on federal counts.
The results of a year-long investigation were disclosed Friday morning by the Tri-City Metro Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The task force is a collaborative effort of Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, and West Richland police, as well as the sheriff’s offices of Benton and Franklin, with the goal of disrupting narcotics trafficking, illegal gun sales, and gang activities.
According to a press statement from Kennewick police, the task force began investigating the trafficking group in 2022.
Officials identified the individuals as having gang affiliations and trafficking fentanyl and methamphetamine throughout the Tri-Cities.
Metro and the DEA worked along with the US Attorney’s Office and Benton County prosecutors until they recently concluded the operation in 2023.
Police seized the following items as part of search warrants served in Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and Benton Counties:
* 76 pounds of methamphetamine
* A total of 238,000 fentanyl pills
* Drug revenues of $18,000
* Six firearms
* 2 lbs. of cocaine
According to Kennewick police, eight Tri-Citians have been charged in connection with the drug operation. The indictment includes eight counts of fentanyl distribution and six counts of meth distribution.
The arrest and charges were sealed, although all looked to have been charged between June and July.
Seven of the suspects’ names have been disclosed by police. An eighth individual was not identified because they had not been apprehended.
The seven people arrested are as follows:
- Pasco resident Lamarr Craig, 42
- Travis Dammarell, 39, of Pasco, Washington
- Kennewick resident Frank Humphries, 46.
- Pasco resident Ricardo Martinez, 31,
- Kennewick resident Abel Rivera, 42.
- Kennewick resident Christian Rocha Centeno, 32.
- Teresa Sanchez, 31, of Richland, Washington
The Seattle DEA field office’s special agent in charge, David Reams, complimented the cooperation between local and federal authorities that led to the arrests.
“This case demonstrates how vital our federal, state, and local partnerships are to dismantle violent drug trafficking organizations preying on our communities with poisons like fentanyl and methamphetamine,” he stated in a press release.
In the first half of this year, nearly all overdose deaths in the Tri-Cities were caused by fentanyl. This followed a significant number of fentanyl-related deaths in the area in 2022.
Total overdose deaths in Benton and Franklin counties have been decreasing over the last five years, but the percentage attributed to fentanyl has soared.
Health professionals and law police have been warning that even a trace amount of fentanyl is dangerous – one pill can kill.
During a visit to the Tri-Cities last week, Kennewick Police Chief Chris Guerrero warned Gov. Jay Inslee that the fentanyl issue is not something that law enforcement can arrest their way out of. Stopping the supply, he argued, must be the priority.