GREAT BEND (GH) — Substantial quantities of illicit drugs were seized during an operation in Barton County. The Barton County Sheriff’s Office and several other agencies executed several search warrants early Monday.
This operation is the culmination of several months of investigative work conducted by Sheriff’s Office detectives, dubbed “Operation Snowplow.” Search warrants were executed at six locations in Great Bend, as well as three vehicles.
According to a press release, the investigation began as a cocaine distribution case. Detectives had used undercover techniques to purchase illicit drugs. The case mushroomed drastically into a major distribution case involving all types of drugs.
Estimated street value of the drugs seized is more than $500,000.
“This investigation has netted the widest variety and largest quantity of drugs seized by the Sheriff’s Office in approximately the last 30 years,” said Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir in a press release. “I would especially like to thank Detective Sgt. David Paden, Detective Adam Hales and Detective Bryan Volkel. Many hours have been spent on this case with positive results.”
Deputies are in the initial stages of weighing and processing the evidence, but substantial quantities of illicit drugs were seized during the operation. All the seized substances are pending laboratory analysis and certified weights.
Estimated total amounts are:
* 200 doses of LSD
* 10 kilos of high-grade marijuana.
* 1.5 kilos marijuana wax
* 2 ounces of black tar heroin
* 160 fluid ounces of liquid codeine
* 1 kilo of methamphetamine
* 2 kilos suspected China white heroin
* 8 oz. cocaine
* 6 oz. suspected Fentanyl
Of particular concern were the appearance of imitation hydrocodone tablets, which are manufactured to look like the prescription drug, and contains fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller that is far more likely to cause an overdose leading to death. According to a press release, the tablets found are some of the strongest ever analyzed in the state of Kansas.
Also noteworthy is the seizure of black tar heroin, which has not been common in western Kansas for nearly two decades. According to a press release, there is a very strong likelihood most of these drugs originated in Mexico and were smuggled into the United States. Evidence of money order and wire transfers of money to Mexico were also discovered by law enforcement.
Along with the drugs, sheriff’s deputies seized three firearms: one rifle and two shotguns, one of which was sawn off to approximately 12 inches. Multiple rounds of 00 buckshot were found with the shotgun.
The sheriff’s office also seized more than $25,000 cash and three vehicles. The sheriff’s office aniticipates that asset forfeiture proceedings will be filed on the cash and vehicles and is considering the seizure of real estate related to the case.
Arrested Mondy morning were:
* Iban Martinez -- Enrique, 21 of Great Bend: Distribution of methamphetamine, distribution of cocaine, distribution of marijuana, distribution of heroin, possession of paraphernalia, criminal use of a weapon, and no drug tax stamp bond is set at $100,000.
* Miguel Gonzalez, 22 of Great Bend: Possession of cocaine, possession of paraphernalia, and criminal use of a firearm bond $10,000.
* Candice Johnson, 42 of Great Bend: Distribution of Methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia Bond is set at $100,000.
* Kennedy Beakey, 19 of Great Bend: Distribution of a Hallucinogenic and possession of paraphernalia. Bond is set at $50,000.
* Pedro Garcia, 20 of Great Bend: Possession of a stimulant, and possession of paraphernalia bond was set at $10,000. He has bonded out of jail.
* Vincente Espino, 51 of Great Bend: distribution of methamphetamine, distribution of cocaine, distribution of heroin, distribution of fentanyl, distribution of LSD and distribution of marijuana. Bond set at $100000.
Deputies were unable to locate one suspect and seek the public’s assistance in finding Murel Dean Amador.
Amador is a Hispanic male, 63, 5-foot-11, 230 pounds, brown eyes and black hair, which is balding and graying. Amador is wanted for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Warrants from the Barton County District Court have been issued. If you have information as to Amador’s location, please call 911.
Agencies assisting in the operation include Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office, Rush County Sheriff’s Office and the Rice County Sheriff’s Office.