Drug bust nets 27 suspects

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Federal and local agencies arrested 27 people Wednesday in the culmination of a three-year investigation into a major Bay Area drug-trafficking ring.

About 300 law enforcement personnel participated in Wednesday’s operation, San Mateo Sheriff’s Lt. Mark Wyss said, seizing about $4.6 million worth of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, 12 guns and $1.4 million in cash.

U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan’s office announced Thursday the names and residences of 19 people indicted Wednesday in federal court. Of those indicted, 15 were arrested, as well as an additional 12 who were implicated when the indictments were served.

Agents seized about 42 pounds of methamphetamine, about 52 kilograms of cocaine, 177 marijuana plants and five vehicles, including one Harley-Davidson motorcycle, Ryan’s office reported. Of the 12 guns seized, three are assault rifles.

The investigation started as three separate investigations, Wyss said. “They were separate but as we got deeper involved … the cases became intertwined.” Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the San Mateo Narcotics Task Force and the San Francisco Police Department, as well as six other federal, state, county and city agencies participated in the investigation.

“This operation is a great example of how state, federal and local law enforcement work together. We all have assets we can bring to the table to target these drug trafficking organizations. When we all put our assets together these are the results we can come up with,” Wyss said.

Suspects werearrested as far away as Mississippi and Hawaii, but most were brought in here in the Bay Area, predominantly in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, DEA spokeswoman Casey McEnrey said Thursday. Four suspects, Stanley James Pryor Jr., 36, of Redwood City, Jose Araiza, 36, of Sylmar, Jose Ayala, of Azusa, and Luis Alexander Flores, 34, of San Francisco, escaped arrest and are still at large.

Defendants face various combinations of charges of conspiracy and possession of narcotics with intent to sell, which carry differing maximum sentences of up to 20 years to life in prison, according to Ryan’s office.

amartin@examiner.com

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