Six alleged Mesa members of a drug trafficking organization were arrested, along with the seizure of cocaine, fentanyl, guns and cash.
The arrests and seizures were the result of a joint task force investigation by the Scottsdale Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The task force raided four residences in west and central Mesa, seizing about two kilograms of cocaine, 1,000 suspected fentanyl pills and $28,000 in cash.
According to public law enforcement records, the investigation began in late 2018 based on information developed by the DEA’s Scottsdale Task Force. However, a DEA spokesperson said the investigation began in March 2018.
The task force also seized 16 weapons, including stolen handguns and AR-15 assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, body armor and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
The raids all took place at the suspects’ residences in Mesa, at which time the task force found cocaine and pills hidden throughout the homes, including in a toilet.
Following the months-long investigation, the task force conducted four raids across the Valley and arrested six individuals with alleged ties to drug trafficking: Jose Gonzalez-Ramos, Yasary Bejarano, Luis Adrian Gonzalez Perez, Carlos Daniel Pineda Martinez, Jorge Marin Cuevas and John Hernandez Vera.
Through its investigation, the task force identified Gonzalez-Ramos as the head of the organization, who was purchasing one kilogram of cocaine per week to sell.
According to court records, the arrested individuals are suspected of being members of a drug trafficking organization that was selling cocaine and fentanyl-laced pills.
The other individuals were allegedly involved in storing and selling the illicit drugs.
According to the DEA press release, Gonzalez-Ramos admitted to being a member of MS-13, an international criminal gang that began in Los Angeles in the 1970s.
He is currently on probation for a 2017 federal money laundering charge for attempting to bring currency into Mexico.
“The safety and protection of American citizens by targeting drug traffickers, violent gang members and other criminal organizations is our highest priority,” said Doug Coleman, special agent in charge of DEA in Arizona, in a press release. “These criminals who prey on our communities will be discovered, and along with our law enforcement partners, the men and women of DEA will bring them to justice.”
The Scottsdale Police Department declined to comment.
The bust comes about a month after a local teenager in northern Scottsdale nearly died in February after taking a pill laced with fentanyl.
The teen survived after members of the Scottsdale Police Department and Scottsdale Fire Department administered the drug Naloxone and transferred him to a local hospital.
Police later confirmed the pill was given to the teen by a student at Notre Dame High School who was later found to be in possession of additional counterfeit prescription pills laced with fentanyl.
The prevalence of those types of pills is increasing in Arizona. The number of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA in Arizona jumped from 54,984 pills in 2017 to 379,557 pills in 2018.
DEA spokesperson Erica Curry said that Mexican cartels have begun importing the precursors to manufacture fentanyl and acquired technology to make counterfeit pills that look like prescription drugs like oxycodone, Xanax and Percocet.