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Dozens arrested in sweep

Authorities: Operation targeted gang activity

A multiagency effort led to the arrest of more than two dozen people throughout the region early Thursday morning.

A long-term investigation led by the Spokane Violent Crimes Gang Task Force culminated in a massive sweep in which law enforcement seized more than eight pounds of methamphetamine, 40 firearms, a grenade, an estimated $150,000 in currency and valuables, and 10 vehicles.

“We need to send a message that we will not tolerate this type of activity in our community,” said Spokane Valley Police Chief Rick VanLeuven.

More than a dozen federal indictments unsealed today charge “members and associates of various gangs and drug organizations” with numerous counts of distribution of methamphetamine and other drugs. Some were charged as felons in possession of firearms.

The operation targeting what authorities called organized criminal enterprises and gang activity across Eastern Washington and northern Oregon was dubbed Operation Old School.

“These are very bad people doing very bad things to our children, and ultimately they are the ones hiring our children to do their dirty work, and it’s our kids who are ending up in body bags,” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.

Authorities executed more than 25 federal search warrants in connection with the arrests, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Rice.

Those indicted on drug distribution charges face 20 years in prison or more, while the firearm offenses carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

“This has a direct impact on our quality of life, and we must eliminate that threat to our quality of life,” Knezovich said.

Authorities are still looking for more people in connection with the operation but have not released their identities.

The operation involved more than 100 federal, state and local authorities.

“It is pretty awe-inspiring when you look at the level of coordination and cooperation taking place,” said Scott Stephens, SPD’s interim police chief.

The defendants charged in the federal indictment are: Charles M. Bell, 63, of Spokane; Michael Bell, 40, of Spokane; Brandon B. Blanche, 25, of Nevada; Christopher Brotherton, 32, of Walla Walla; Johauna M. Byers, 28, of Spokane; Tyrone J. Carell, 24, of Spokane; William Childs, 40, of Kennewick; Donald Cummings, 55, of Kennewick; Ryan Doherty, 24, of Spokane; Christopher D. Drumgoole, 26, of Spokane; Keith Hall, 42, of Walla Walla; Joshua J. Kaczor, 32, of Spokane, Edgar Lizarraga-Felix, 28, of Pasco; David McLaughlin, 21, of Spokane; Paul L. Rios, 30, of Spokane; Amador Sanchez, 31, of Kennewick; Robert Michael Sevey, 55, of Spokane; Michael A. Shahinian, 45, of Spokane; Clayton D. Sibbett, 38, of Weston, Ore.; Teal Nicholas Terrell, 19, of Spokane; Edward L. Thomas, 26, of Spokane; Siaosilepelenise L. Tuaimalo, 30, of Spokane; Michael Wilson, 44, of Spokane Valley; and Alice Woodburn, 49, of Spokane Valley.


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