Police arrest 5 in alleged Hazel Dell drug trafficking

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

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Police arrested five men this week as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged drug trafficking organization based out of auto repair businesses in Hazel Dell.

Daladier Torres Ambriz, 33, is suspected of bringing large amounts of methamphetamine from Mexico to Clark County, where it was distributed by people through the shops, police said.

"Although these businesses appeared to be legitimate, they were, in fact, simply fronts for a large drug trafficking organization," said Cmdr. Mike Cooke, who heads the Clark-Vancouver Regional Drug Task Force. "Although they may have repaired a few cars here and there, the main business was trafficking methamphetamine."

The first search warrants were served at 6 a.m. Thursday at the homes of several suspects. At 10808 N.E. 96th St. in the Orchards area, police arrested Ambriz and Felix Eduardo Ambriz Rodriguez, 26. Detectives also seized several pieces of evidence, including $30,000, documents referring to cash transfers to Mexico as well as four cars that were allegedly used to deliver controlled substances.

At 3414 P. St. in Vancouver's Rose Village neighborhood, Jose B. Toscano, 20, and Jose Gabriel Aguilar, 21, were taken into custody on Thursday. Cellphones, additional documents referring to cash transfers to Mexico, a handgun and a car allegedly used to deliver drugs were seized during the raid.

Also Thursday, Beningo Blasquez Moreno, 18, was taken into custody at 3400 N.E. 66th Court in Vancouver's Bagley Downs neighborhood. Police seized about 21/2 pounds of methamphetamine, notes documenting drug transactions, a drug scale, cellphones, and a laptop computer. Detectives suspect this apartment was being used to convert methamphetamine from a liquid form to a crystal form.

Search warrants also were served at the businesses in Hazel Dell on Thursday. Units B, C and D were searched at 1103 N.E. 95th St. and unit D1 at 1017 N.E. 95th St., all small warehouses in a commercial district where police believe meth was held for daily deliveries throughout Clark County. The Drug Task Force arranged to buy meth and watched as the order was driven from the shop to the drug buy location. After the buy, whoever was delivering the drugs would drive back to the shop location.

Evidence seized at the commercial locations included six handguns, one of which was reportedly stolen in a burglary, two ounces of methamphetamine, a drug scale and drug packaging materials.

All five suspects were booked at the Clark County Jail on suspicion of delivering a controlled substance and possessing controlled substances with intent to deliver. Ambriz was additionally charged with leading organized crime.

The Clark County Sheriff's Office Tactical Detective Unit and the Vancouver Police Department's Neighborhood Response Team helped serve the search warrants.