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A search warrant in Bellingham uncovers drug ring, weapons and a massive amount of fentanyl

A drug distribution network that was operating in and around Bellingham was broken up in August by a law enforcement investigation.

About a month ago, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Gang and Drug Task Force was notified that the network was being run from a homeless camp in the 4400 block of Guide Meridian. The location had been the site of multiple violent assaults, sexual assaults, fentanyl overdoses, stolen vehicle recoveries, stolen firearms and other criminal activity, according to a news release from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives were surveying the location for much of August.

A suspect, Rigoberto Vasquez Martinez, was arrested in Oregon by State Police during a routine traffic stop on Aug. 29. Troopers located approximately 70,000 suspected fentanyl-laced pills in the vehicle along with $2,000 cash. This was enough fentanyl to kill the entire population of Bellingham, according to the news release.

“Detectives believed that all of the suspected drugs were destined to be distributed in Bellingham,” the release said.

Police that same day executed a search warrant on a storage unit in Lynnwood, Washington, north of Seattle, that was identified as being used by Martinez. Inside, police found 3,000 grams of suspected fentanyl powder, 500 grams of suspected fentanyl-laced pills, 1,000 grams of suspected heroin, 300 grams of suspected methamphetamine, a loaded 9mm handgun and $46,000 in cash.

Bellingham law enforcement executed a search warrant of the Guide Meridian homeless encampment two days later, on Aug. 31. Inside they found four firearms, including an AR-15 assault-style rifle; an illegal, “sawed-off” shotgun; a reported stolen .22 caliber pistol and a 12-gauge shotgun; a small amount of suspected fentanyl powder, drug packaging material and other drug paraphernalia, and $5,876 in cash.

Also at the Bellingham encampment were 13 dogs, including 11 puppies, which were delivered to the Whatcom Humane Society.

Information on whether there were any arrests in Bellingham was not immediately available.