30 arrested in 5-county drug probe

Clark County site of two arrests; 26 pounds of meth recovered

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter



Officers around the Portland metro area on Thursday and Friday served 18 search warrants in five counties, including Clark County, as part of a yearlong drug trafficking investigation that has resulted in 30 arrests, the seizure of more than 26 pounds of methamphetamine and the discovery of a large cockfighting operation.

Twelve of 24 people named in a sweeping federal indictment charging the group with multiple drug, money laundering and animal cruelty violations appeared in federal court Friday.

The investigation started more than a year ago and focused on a methamphetamine trafficking ring based in Washington County, Ore., according to the county sheriff’s office.

The case, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland, “involved a vast drug trafficking conspiracy in which drug cartels, criminal organizations and gangs were sourcing a large drug trafficking operation” in Washington County that moved hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine to other area drug dealers.

The sheriff’s office said investigators think the drugs were transported from Mexico and, over the course of the investigation, found the organization was spread through Multnomah, Yamhill, Clackamas and Washington counties in Oregon and in Clark County.

Along with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Vancouver Police Department, more than a dozen local law enforcement agencies cooperated on the investigation, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, as did federal agencies.

Clark County Sheriff’s Detective Bill Sofianos said one of the search locations was in Clark County, where local officers provided extra help for Washington County officers.

Two people were arrested, he said.

The sheriff’s office added the Oregon Department of Human Services was consulted several times about instances of children in hazardous environments.

Along with the meth, investigators also recovered more than 1,600 chickens as part of what they suspect is a large cockfighting operation, according to the sheriff’s office.

The Oregon Humane Society was helping handle the recovered animals.

Police recovered a large quantity of stolen property from the various locations, including firearms and a $3,000 bicycle.

Recovered items included 19 firearms, two of which were stolen; cocaine; about $90,000 in cash; and other property pending seizure, including vehicles and other funds.

Officers served most of the warrants Thursday, with two more Friday morning and four others previously, the sheriff’s office said.

The searches included residential and commercial locations, and most of them were in Washington County.

Correction appended: This article originally misspelled Detective Bill Sofianos’ name.