7-Month Drug Investigation Results in Arrests of More Than 60 People

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More than 60 people were arrested on drug and weapons charges Wednesday as the result of a seven-month investigation by the Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team (BENT).

The investigation, called Operation Wildfire, was aimed at identifying, disrupting or dismantling drug trafficking organizations in Umatilla, Morrow, Union and Gilliam counties.

BENT detectives, in collaboration with prosecutors in the four counties, spent approximately 13 hours presenting individual cases to grand juries in each county, according to a BENT press release.  As a result, 63 offenders were secretly indicted before operational plans were developed for takedowns.  In order to minimize community safety risks, search warrants were executed on strategic residences last week in anticipation of Wednesday’s arrests.

BENT said that approximately 85 law enforcement, corrections, parole & probation, Department of Human Services Child Protective Services and prosecutorial personnel formed 11 arrest teams charged with locating and arresting those who were indicted, seizing drugs and illegal weapons and interviewing witnesses and people of interest.

The Pendleton Convention Center served as the main command and processing facility while the Umatilla County Jail staff was on site to book and process those arrested.

Approximately 16 of the indicted persons were already in the custody of various jails or state correctional facilities when the arrest warrants were issued.

BENT said Operation Wildfire is ongoing and more arrests are expected.