Drug bust leads to 11 arrests in Polk County

Article subtitle: 
Raids shut down drug ring
Article author: 
Joce DeWitt
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Article date: 
Thursday, January 10, 2013
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A seven-month investigation into a methamphetamine drug ring led to 11 arrests and the seizure of more than $130,000 of drugs Wednesday morning in Polk County.

About 4 a.m. Oregon State Police SWAT and a Polk County Special Response team served search warrants at three residences in Independence.

Polk County Sheriff Bob Wolfe said the morning bust went “like clockwork.”

“The best thing that happened was nobody got hurt — no suspects, no officers,” Wolfe said.

According to Independence police, one of more than a dozen agencies to participate in Wednesday’s search, the investigation began with undercover drug buys from suspects in July 2012.

A development in the investigation occurred Dec. 8, 2012, when law enforcement conducted a traffic stop of a drug transport vehicle in Douglas County enroute to Polk County based on information gained during the investigation.

Officials seized 6.5 pounds of methamphetamine, one pound of heroin and one pound of unidentified powder from the vehicle, which contained two suspects: Sergio Gustavo Pineda-Villanueva, 23, and Faliciano Ayala-Cardenas, 31.

Both men were arrested and taken to the Douglas County jail, where they have Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds.

Pineda-Villanueva was charged with racketeering, distribution of a controlled substance — methamphetamine and distribution of a controlled substance — heroin. His bail was set at $200,000. Ayala-Cardenas was arrested on the same charges and his bail was set at $100,000.

Officials learned that suspects may have been armed and some had histories of violent behavior, but no one was injured when SWAT and the special response team searched the residences, which were at side-by-side houses at 1145 and 1135 Monmouth Street, and an apartment complex at 1050 E Street.

“The city of Independence has received complaints from the general neighborhood — there is a lot of activity there,” Wolfe said of the residences. “They have spent a lot of time fixing this house up and making it look nice, but the fact that there are lots of vehicles coming and going, those sorts of things are always triggers for us.”

Officers also seized two firearms, computers, 12.9 grams of methamphetamine and three vehicles, including a GMC Yukon, a Jeep Cherokee and a Jaguar. The estimated street value of all the drugs seized during the operation is $120,000 in methamphetamine and $19,000 in heroin.

Four children were taken into protective custody and will be placed in foster care, said Independence police.