Delivering a big blow to criminal gangs operating in Yakima and throughout the United States federal officials Thursday announced major indictments against 34 alleged criminal gang members.

THE INDICTMENTS ALLEGE ILLEGAL DRUG SALES, MONEY LAUNDERING AMONG OTHER CHARGES

Standing in front of the William O. Douglas Federal Building on 3rd Street in Yakima U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref told reporters 28 people are in custody on six separate indictments on charges of illegal drugs, firearms, money laundering, cockfighting and attempts to kill witnesses. Some of the suspects are not yet in federal custody as the investigation continues. Several suspects are expected to be arraigned in federal court in Yakima and Spokane on Friday, April 19.

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 AUTHORITIES TARGETED MEMBERS OF THE LA NUESTRA FAMILIA

A press release says the arrests are the result of a long term investigation that involved local, state and federal authorities into the La Nuestra Familia. Federal officials describe the group as a violent prison gang which is responsible for "trafficking dangerous drugs into the community" for the benefit of gang members including some who are serving life sentences in the U.S. Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado.

HUNDREDS OF LOCAL STATE AND FEDERAL AUTHORITIES WORKED TOGETHER

Waldref says more than 350 local, state and federal officials worked closely in an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force that started in 2018 that included Yakima, the Yakama Nation Reservation, Spokane and Walla Walla Counties. Investigators were also busy in Louisiana, Colorado and Arkansas.

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DRUGS CASH GUNS WERE SEIZED IN THE INVESTIGATION ALONG WITH ROOSTERS USED IN COCKFIGHTING

The arrests resulted in the seizure of 37 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine along with 8,000 fentanyl-laced pills. Authorities also seized $20,000 in cash. Hundreds of roosters being used for cockfighting were also found and taken from areas in Zillah and Outlook. The roosters have been turned over to an animal rescue organization.

AUTHORITIES SAY THIS IS NOT THE END OF THE PRESSURE AUTHORITIES WANT TO BRING TO CRIMINAL GANGS

Yakima Police Chief Matthew Murray and Yakima County Sheriff Robert Udell both praised the investigation saying the arrests will have a big impact on gangs operating in the Yakima valley. Murray told reporters this effort and investigation is only the beginning of an ongoing operation to stop and arrest criminal gangs operating in Yakima and throughout the United States.

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