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Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Barragan Drug Trafficking Gang Busted

The Mexican crime family known to South Sound law enforcement agencies as the Barragan Drug Trafficking Gang source of much of the methamphetamine smuggled into Western Washington and the Western U.S.- was rolled up last week in a multistate wave of arrests. Authorities believe they have successfully dismantled the organization with the arrests of 22 members, many of whom lived in Thurston, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor and Pacific counties. Nineteen others also face charges in connection with drug trafficking. The Barragan business was no small enterprise. Officials say the tight-knit crime ring efficiently smuggled about 200 pounds of crystal methamphetamine into the United States each month. In Western Washington, the outfit used the Olympia-Lacey region as a staging area, selling about half its product locally and shipping the rest to other parts of the country. The organization's activities in the region stretch back a couple decades, and it controlled the meth trade along the Interstate 5 corridor. One reason authorities believe they have put the family out of business is that the latest arrests, capping 14 months of investigation by more than 30 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, include two Barragan brothers and three of their cousins, all considered key to the operation. The market for imported meth has exploded in recent years as new state and local laws have made it difficult for addicts to obtain materials for manufacturing homemade meth. While meth-lab busts are way down -- a good thing indeed -- the demand from users remains strong. Such a lucrative market for illicit drugs means that it is almost certain that other criminal entrepreneurs will try to take the Barragan family's place. The Barragan family itself might be capable of staging a resurgence. Nonethless, any victory in the permanent war on drugs is worth celebration. Last week's take-down of the Barragan DTO resulted from textbook persistence and cooperation among law enforcement agencies. It was great police work and a great win for community safety in the South Sound.


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