(NewsNation) — A yearslong investigation into an international drug conspiracy has ended with 27 men indicted, federal officials announced Monday. Many of them have ties to the “Aryan Family,” a white supremacist prison gang.
Twenty-four of the 27 defendants have been arrested over the last six days in Washington and Arizona, U.S. Attorney Nick Brown announced.
Many of the defendants have already served time within the Washington correctional system, which is where the plotting allegedly started. The defendants allegedly became connected with each other through their involvement in the Aryan Family prison gang and other gangs under the umbrella of white power and white supremacy, according to Brown.
The alleged leader of the drug trafficking organization, Jesse James Bailey, 39, is also an influential member of the Aryan Family gang. Bailey is accused of trafficking massive amounts of fentanyl, methamphetamine and other drugs in Washington, Idaho and Alaska, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s office of Washington.
Last week, ten swat teams and more than 350 law enforcement officers carried out a coordinated takedown that resulted in the seizure of 177 firearms, more than ten kilos of methamphetamine, 11 kilos of fentanyl pills and more than a kilo of fentanyl powder, three kilos of heroin and more than $330,000 in cash, the press release stated.
“The fentanyl seized in this operation contained enough lethal doses to kill everyone who lives in Tacoma and Seattle, with enough lethal doses left over to poison another half a million people,” said Jacob D. Galvan, acting special agent in charge at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Seattle.
Candace Bailey, the wife of Jesse James Bailey, is a former corrections officer who resigned as authorities investigated her links to an inmate and the Aryan family and is among those arrested in the sweep, Washington Department of Corrections confirmed to NewsNation.
The takedown came after a year-and-a-half long investigation, the press release stated, during which time 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 case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation, according to the press release, and was led by the FBI.
Several agencies including the DEA, Homeland Security Investigations and the Washington State Department of Corrections were also a part of the investigation, the press release stated.
“This operation is an example of the difference we can make when we collaborate to keep illegal guns and drugs from hitting our streets,” said Chief Avery Moore of the Tacoma Police Department. “Guns and drugs have taken the lives of our loved ones, friends, neighbors, and community members. The contraband confiscated in this effort will not be allowed to harm anyone.”