SEATTLE – The swift actions of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents likely saved the life of a man arrested during a drug operation conducted by HSI’s High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HHTF), Sept. 30.
Since February, the HSI task force has been conducting an investigation of a group of drug traffickers selling extremely dangerous fentanyl-laced pills. HSI officers from Seattle set out to disrupt the drug flow and dismantle the trafficking organization. During the planned operation, HSI agents observed two suspects, one in a Ford Taurus and another in a Nissan Altima, conducting a “car-to-car” drug transaction near a local casino. Officers quickly moved to detain the occupants and successfully apprehended the suspect in the Ford without incident. Once in custody, officers noted several items of investigative importance, to include large amounts of bulk currency in the Ford.
Despite commands from the officers, the presence of multiple law enforcement vehicles and an overhead helicopter, the driver of the Nissan attempted to flee. HSI agents and task force officers successfully used tactical maneuvers to eventually block his escape. Although cornered, the occupants refused to obey verbal commands and would not exit the vehicle, forcing officers to breach the windows. The officers extracted the occupants and seized large quantities of bulk currency, fentanyl pills, a firearm and documentary evidence.
“These substances contain a mixture of drugs that are extremely dangerous to the unsuspecting buyer,” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge for HSI Seattle. “Individuals are placing their lives on the line for a high, to hide evidence or both. The criminals who sell these pills are more concerned about lining their pockets than the individuals they sell to.”
Prior to being transported to King County Jail, one of the suspects began vomiting, lost consciousness and stopped breathing. Officers pulled the subject from the vehicle, cleared his throat of vomit and placed him in the recovery position. The supervising HSI agent ordered the application of naloxone, which once administered, helped the subject to regain consciousness. HSI agents continued to provide life-sustaining measures until emergency medical services (EMS) personnel arrived at the scene.
Once EMS arrived and began treating the suspect, he attempted to ingest pieces of his own vomit, presumably to destroy the narcotics evidence. HSI agents examined the vomit and discovered several pieces of the fentanyl pills.
Agents followed the subject to a local hospital and stayed with him until he was medically cleared.
“The quick actions of HSI agents, in combination with emergency services personnel and our law enforcement partners, not only saved the life of the overdosing subject, but potentially his drug-seeking customers,” said Bench. “I can’t emphasize enough how dangerous these drugs are. If you’re buying illegal drugs, you’re gambling with your life.”
High intensity drug trafficking area task forces bring law enforcement agency partners together to combat drug-trafficking crimes in designated areas around the country that have a high concentration of narcotic distribution, transportation, smuggling and other drug-related activities.
To learn more about what HSI is doing to combat the opioid crisis visit https://www.ice.gov/features/opioid-crisis.
Individuals across the world can report suspicious criminal activity to the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tip Line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Highly trained specialists take reports from both the public and law enforcement agencies on more than 400 laws enforced by ICE HSI. To report criminal activity call 866-DHS-2-ICE (866-347-2423).
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