BELLINGHAM, Wash. — A September 12th press release from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office said their Gang and Drug Task Force had received information “about a month ago” “that a large-scale drug distribution network was being run from a homeless encampment located in the 4400 block of Guide Meridian.”
While conducting surveillance on the encampment, detectives observed numerous individuals who appeared to be openly using drugs as well as purchasing them.
On August 29, the suspect, identified as 34-year-old Rigoberto Vasquez Martinez was pulled over by Oregon State Police (OSP) during a routine traffic stop south of Salem, Oregon. OSP Troopers located approximately 70,000 suspected fentanyl-laced pills in the car along with about $2,000 US currency. Mr. Vasquez Martinez was arrested on State charges for the drugs in the vehicle.
Later that same day, WGDTF along with other law enforcement executed a search warrant on a storage unit in Lynnwood, WA that was identified as one being used by Mr. Vasquez Martinez. Inside was located:
- 3000g of suspected fentanyl powder
- 500g of suspected fentanyl-laced pills
- 1000g of suspected heroin
- 300g of suspected methamphetamine
On August 31, a search warrant was executed on Mr. Vasquez Martinez’s compound in the homeless camp in Bellingham. Sheriff’s Detectives located the following items:
- 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
- Suspected drug packaging material and other drug paraphernalia
- $5,876 in US Currency
In addition to the above items, 13 dogs, including 11 puppies, were rescued from the compound and delivered into the care of the Whatcom Humane Society. Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office (September 12, 2023)
According to court records from the US District Court – Western District of Washington, Vasquez-Martinez pled guilty in 2016 to 5 counts of distribution of heroin and received a sentence of 18 months in custody of the US Marshal’s Service. He was determined to be a citizen of Mexico and in the US illegally at the time.
Documents in the 2016 case also note he pled guilty in June of 2012 to unlawful possession of a controlled substance (heroin) in Whatcom County Superior Court. In July of 2012, he was ordered removed from the US and, in August of 2012, he was removed.