15 arrested in federal drug sting near Moses Lake

Fifteen people were arrested Tuesday in connection to a methamphetamine and heroin drug trafficking operation in Moses Lake.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Border Patrol led the bust. They said the operation had ties to a Washington street gang called the Eastside Familia Norteno.

Over 300 law enforcement officials executed 19 search warrants in Grant, Yakima and Adams counties.

On July 10, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Washington returned an indictment charging 16 individuals for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin.

The lead defendants in this care are Luis Manuel Farias-Carendas, 40, of Moses Lake and Joshua Isaac Stine, 34, of Ephrata. They are accused of being leaders of the drug trafficking conspiracy. Both were taken into custody Tuesday. Twelve others named in the indictment are also in custody pending their first appearance in federal court in Spokane.

Those in custody include:

Patrick Elliot Pearson, 47, of Moses Lake
Cristian Misael Gomes, 23, of Grant County
Luis Manuel Ramirez, 25, of Moses Lake
Zacarias Martinez-Garza, 23, of Moses Lake
Mariano Ruiz-Balderas, 19, of Moses Lake
Jesse Leon Manion Jr., 55, of Moses Lake
Heather Elaine Keating, 41, of Moses Lake
Leonel Caballero, 62, of Warden
Forrest Walker Herzog, 34, of Moses Lake
Amy Jo Dygert, 33, of Moses Lake
Michael Edward McLaughlin, 59, of Ephrata
Jesus Valenica-Morfin, 31, of Yakima

Tomas Gomez, 49, of Los Angeles, was also arrested during the operation and charged by federal complaint.

The arrests were made in Moses Lake, Ephrata, Yakima and Warden on Tuesday. During the sting, two ATF agents were injured during an exchange of gunfire with a suspect, who has not been identified yet.

The officers were injured by shrapnel. The suspect is believed to have suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was taken to a Spokane hospital.

RELATED: Two federal agents hurt in exchange of gunfire during Moses Lake drug bust

At this time, agents and officers have seized pound quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, over 50 firearms and U.S. currency.

The investigation is a continuation of law enforcement efforts in December 2017, which focused on violent drug traffickers operating in Grant County. The earlier investigation resulted in 24 individuals pleading guilty in federal court. Eight pounds of methamphetamine, 10 vehicles, $25,000 and more than 80 firearms were seized.