Two federal agents were struck by shrapnel and a suspect was critically wounded in an exchange of gunfire early Tuesday during a raid targeting alleged drug traffickers near Moses Lake.
The agents are part of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF. Their injuries were not life-threatening, and they had been released from a hospital by noon Tuesday. The suspect was airlifted to a Spokane hospital, where his condition was not immediately available. Officials have not released any of their identities.
The raid also involved agents from the U.S. Border Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as deputies from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.
Kyle Foreman, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said shots rang out when officials entered a home in the 2400 block of Road E.5 Northeast in the Mae Valley area near Moses Lake. It was initially unclear if the ATF agents had been shot or struck by debris.
Authorities believe the suspect attempted suicide by shooting himself during the gunfight, Foreman said. The sheriff’s office is leading an investigation into the incident that is expected to determine who shot first.
The sheriff’s office described the raid as part of a “large-scale enforcement action targeting a methamphetamine and heroin drug trafficking organization in Central and Eastern Washington.”
In a joint news release, the federal agencies said the operation targeted suspects with ties to a Washington-based street gang known as the Eastside Family Norteño.
They said the operation involved more than 300 local, state and law enforcement officials who executed 19 federal search warrants in Grant, Yakima and Adams counties, seizing more than 50 firearms and large quantities of meth, cocaine, heroin and cash.
Sixteen people were arrested on conspiracy charges that a grand jury recommended in a July 10 indictment. Luis Manuel Farias-Carendas, 40, and Joshua Isaac Stine, 34, are believed to be the group’s ringleaders, the federal agencies said.
Also charged in the indictment are Patrick Elliot Pearson, 47; Christian Misael Gomez, 23; Luis Manuel Ramirez, 25; Zacarias Martinez-Garza, 23; Mariano Ruiz-Balderas, 19; Jesse Leon Manion Jr., 55; Heather Elaine Keating, 41; Leonel Caballero, 62; Forrest Walker Herzog, 34; and Amy Jo Dygert, 33. All are from Grant County.
One additional suspect, Tomas Gomez, 49, of Los Angeles, was arrested and charged during the operation.
Jason Chudy, a spokesman for the ATF’s Seattle field office, declined to name the injured agents and wouldn’t say which of the suspects were hospitalized, citing privacy concerns.
Authorities described the raids as a continuation of a December 2017 operation targeting drug traffickers in Grant County. Twenty-four people have entered guilty pleas in connection with those arrests, the federal agencies said.
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