TACOMA — Last week’s federal raid in Quilcene was part of an 18-month FBI investigation into a drug trafficking ring operated by an Aryan prison gang that was dealing drugs in Washington and Idaho and to Alaska, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Department of Justice.
Twenty-seven people were indicted March 16 in Western Washington federal court in Tacoma, including 24 who were arrested between Wednesday and Sunday last week in Washington and Arizona, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ) release. Three people remained at large as of Monday.
The coordinated arrests involved 10 SWAT teams and more than 350 law enforcement officers, resulting in the seizure of 177 firearms, more than 22 pounds of methamphetamine, 24.3 pounds of fentanyl pills (2 million doses) and more than two pounds of fentanyl powder, nearly seven pounds of heroin, and more than $330,000 in cash from 18 locations in Washington and Arizona, according to the DOJ release.
Among those arrested was Anna Sarnes, 37, of Quilcene, a 2003 graduate of Aberdeen’s Harbor High School, who was the subject of a March 22 raid in Quilcene by local and federal law enforcement officials.
Sarnes was held at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac. She was released Monday to a third-party with a court date on May 22 in Tacoma. Conditions of release include an ankle bracelet.
She has been charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
The U.S. attorney’s detention memo said Sarnes was a “drug redistributor” for Jesse James Bailey of Steilacoom, Thomas Carver of Auburn and Yehoshua Kilp, who is incarcerated in the state prison system.
Bailey was described in the release as an influential member of the Aryan Family prison gang who allegedly trafficked huge amounts of fentanyl, methamphetamine and other drugs in Washington, Idaho and to Alaska.
He is married to former prison guard Candice Bailey, 41, of Steilacoom, who also was arrested in one of the raids.
The Aryan Family prison gang was founded in 1993 in the Washington prison system, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The indictment includes 12 charges: one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances; nine counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute; attempted possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute; and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance.
All 27 people arrested were charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. The other counts applied to either one person or groups of two, three or four people.
According to the DOJ press release: “Before last week’s takedown, during the year that the ring was under investigation, law enforcement seized 830,000 fentanyl pills, 5.5 pounds of fentanyl powder, 223 pounds of methamphetamine, 3.5 pounds of heroin, five pounds of cocaine, $388,000 in cash and 48 firearms.”
The release also quoted Jacob D. Galvan, acting special agent in charge, DEA Seattle, as saying, “The sheer amount of narcotics seized in this investigation is shocking.
“The fentanyl seized in this operation contained enough lethal doses to kill everyone who lives in Seattle and Tacoma (nearly 1 million people, according to an April 1, 2022, state estimate) with enough lethal doses left over to poison another half-million people.”
The raids from March 22 through Sunday involved agents and officers from FBI Phoenix, DEA Phoenix Field Division, the U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Puyallup Tribal Police.
The Vancouver, Pasco, Kennewick, Puyallup, Steilacoom and Burien police departments, and the Clark, Cowlitz, Jefferson, King and Benton County sheriff’s offices all assisted with arrests and search warrants.
Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.