Local law enforcement officials have taken down the final players in a drug trafficking ring they say was responsible for distributing a large amount of fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine throughout North Central Washington.

The organization was comprised of five men who all have lengthy criminal histories with the distribution of illicit narcotics.

Chelan County Sheriff's Office Chief Chris Foreman says busting up a drug-dealing operation is always satisfying, but combatting the illegal drug trade is a never-ending battle.

"The unfortunate part of this is that when we take somebody down and put them in jail, someone else eventually steps up to meet the demand. But as far as this latest organization is concerned, we feel that we've gotten the major players who were involved in dealing quite a lot of fentanyl and other drugs in the Wenatchee Valley."

The arrests began in November, when 29-year-old Matthew Hendricks of East Wenatchee and 32-year-old Casey McKinstry of Rock Island were taken into custody, and continued this month with the apprehension of three other suspects.

Thirty-nine-year-old Caleb Ritz of Brewster was arrested on December 8 after being found passed out in his car from using methamphetamine in Manson. Foreman says it is not uncommon for those who deal drugs to also use them.

The day after Ritz was jailed, 36-year-old Shawn Drummond of East Wenatchee was taken into custody after a search warrant was served at his residence.

Finally, on December 16, 34-year-old Kasey Cooper of East Wenatchee was apprehended for selling drugs out of hotel room in Wenatchee.

Foreman says Drummond was identified as the leader of the ring and all five of its members have been active in dealing illicit narcotics in the area for at least the last decade.

"They have chosen this lifestyle and they have chosen to continue being drug dealers and drug users. Some of these suspects have five or more felony convictions on their record. So they are continuing to commit crime and do not have respect for the law. And unfortunately for them, it's caught up with them once again."

The Columbia River Drug Task Force was a key component in making the arrests and bringing down the drug ring.

Detectives with the Task Force are now working with their counterparts at Homeland Security Investigations and the Assistant United States Attorney's office of the Eastern District in Spokane to build a case that will indict the five suspects on federal charges.

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