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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cowlitz County deputies assist in federal drug bust with prison gang ties

By Matthew Esnayra (Longview, wash.) Daily News

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office helped detain one of 24 people arrested last week on federal drug trafficking charges.

Cowlitz County Sheriff Brad Thurman said Ronald McCombe, 58, of Ridgefield was arrested with assistance by deputies and a police dog in southern Cowlitz County in a coordinated takedown culminating after what officials say was a year of investigations.

On March 22, 10 SWAT teams and more than 350 law enforcement agencies across Washington and Arizona arrested 24 of the 27 indicted suspects, most of whom have ties to the white supremacists prison gang Aryan Family, according to a Justice Department news release.

“Anytime you pick of 24 of 27 folks, that’s a win,” said Steve Bernd, of the FBI’s Seattle office.

The effort resulted in the seizure of 177 guns, more than 10 kilos of meth, 11 kilos of fentanyl pills, more than a kilo of fentanyl powder, three kilos of heroin, and $330,000 in cash in 18 locations in Washington and Arizona, states the news release.

The three suspects still on the lamb are Gregory Beers, 30, of Edgewood; Stephanie Yepez, 42, of an unknown location; and William Tripp, 34, of an unknown location.

Federal authorities report the ringleader, 39-year-old Steilacoom resident Jesse James Bailey, was also arrested. Bailey is an influential member of the Aryan Family and stands accused of dealing large amounts of narcotics across Alaska, Idaho and Washington, the news release says.

“We were able to arrest over 20 subjects, some of whom are alleged to have operated this drug organization from prison, and also prevented vast quantities of dangerous drugs from being sold on our streets,” said Richard A. Collodi, special agent with the FBI’s Seattle field office in the press release.