A Lynnwood man was among more than 30 people arrested in connection with a multi-state drug trafficking network led by drug cartel members in Mexico.
A Thursday announcement by U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes identified a list of those arrested in Western Washington, and it included Andrew Cain Kristovich, 34, of Lynnwood.
According to the announcement, the drug trafficking organization distributing heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine was active in Washington state, New York, Arizona, Oregon, California, Tennessee, and Utah. The group allegedly used a Manhattan Beach, Calif., cryptocurrency business to launder and transfer money to Mexico.
The owner of that business, Gregory David Werber, 56, was arrested Wednesday night and appeared in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California Thursday. Other defendants appeared in U.S. District Court in Tacoma Thursday.
The investigation began 18 months ago with drug seizures by the Bremerton Police Department. More recently, on Nov. 28, law enforcement seized more than 13 pounds of heroin from the engine compartment of a semi-truck driven by a frequent smuggler for the ring. In addition to coded cell phone conversations, many of the members of the ring also communicated via Facebook messenger. On Thursday alone law enforcement seized 39 firearms and more than 4 kilos of heroin.
“Overdoses involving fentanyl are growing at an alarming rate in Washington State,” Hayes said. “We are committed to bringing all needed resources to identifying and prosecuting groups that distribute this deadly poison in our communities. I commend the Drug Enforcement Administration and their federal, state and local law enforcement partners who developed the evidence that led to the arrests that occurred today.”
Over Dec. 5 and 6, more than 400 federal, state and local law enforcement officers executed 51 federal arrest warrants and search warrants on more than 50 buildings and 35 vehicles. In Western Washington the group distributed heroin, crystal methamphetamine and fentanyl-laced counterfeit oxycodone pills in Pierce, Kitsap, King, Skagit and Snohomish Counties. Over the course of the investigation law enforcement seized thousands of counterfeit oxycodone pills tainted with fentanyl, a powerful and potentially deadly opioid. Following one seizure from a vehicle, Washington State Patrol troopers were treated for their accidental exposure.