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Sheriff: ‘Operation snowplow’ busts major drug ring
Six arrested, public assistance sought to find one more
confiscated items pic.jpg
BCSO officers sort through confiscated items after drug busts, early Monday morning, Oct. 1, 2018.

Operation Snowplow

Sheriff Brian Bellendir reporting. Major drug raid October 1, 2018. 6 arrested

The Barton County Sheriff’s Office broke a “major drug ring” with the execution of nine search warrants in the early hours of Monday morning, Sheriff Brian Bellendir announced. An ongoing investigation involving multiple law enforcement agencies was dubbed “Operation Snowplow.”

Suspected heroin, LSD, cocaine and meth were among the substances seized. A preliminary estimate is that the drugs had a street value of half a million dollars.

“This operation is the culmination of several months of investigative work conducted by Sheriff’s Office detectives,” Bellendir said in a statement. The BCSO, along with several other agencies, executed search warrants at the following locations in Great Bend:

2019 Elm Street

704 Odell Street

5808 16th Street Tr. Apt. 5C

401 Firethorn Street

2528 8th Street

162 NE 20 Ave.

The remaining three search warrants were for motor vehicles which were located and searched.

“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,” according to Bellendir’s statement. 

Of particular concern was the fact the detectives came into possession of imitation hydrocodone tablets. The tablets had been manufactured to look like 5 mg hydrocodone prescription drugs. Upon analysis, it was discovered the tablets contained fentanyl. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful painkiller, more powerful than morphine.  Fentanyl is far more likely to cause an overdose leading to death. Further lab analysis showed these tablets to be some of the strongest ever analyzed in the state of Kansas.

Also, during the course of the investigation detectives obtained quantities of black tar heroin. Heroin has not been common in western Kansas for nearly two decades. Heroin is particularly dangerous due to its addictive qualities and tendency to cause overdoses.

Investigation indicates 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.

Substantial quantities of illicit drugs were seized during the operation. Deputies are in the initial stages of weighing and processing the evidence. The following are estimated total amounts:

- 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

“All the above substances are pending laboratory analysis and certified weights,” Bellendir said. Estimated street value of the drugs is believed to be in excess of $500,000.

Along with the drugs sheriff’s deputies seized one rifle and two shotguns. One of these shotguns had been sawed off to approximately 12 inches, Bellendir said. Multiple rounds of 00 buckshot were found with the gun.

“The Sheriff’s Office also seized more than $25,000 cash and three vehicles. It is anticipated that asset forfeiture proceedings will be filed on the cash and vehicles. The Sheriff’s Office is also considering the seizure of real estate related to the case,” Bellendir added.

Six arrests

Arrested Monday morning were the following individuals, all residents of Great Bend:

- Iban Martinez–Enrique, 21, for 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, for possession of cocaine, possession of paraphernalia, and criminal use of a firearm; bond $10,000 

- Candice Johnson, 42, for distribution of methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia; bond $100,000

- Kennedy Beakey, 19, for distribution of a hallucinogenic and possession of paraphernalia; bond $50,000

- Pedro Garcia, 20, for possession of a stimulant, and possession of paraphernalia. Bond was set at $10,000 and he has bonded out of jail.

- Vincente Espino, 51, for distribution of methamphetamine, distribution of cocaine, distribution of heroin, distribution of fentanyl, distribution of LSD and distribution of marijuana. Bond set at $100,000.

Seventh suspect sought

“Deputies were unable to locate one suspect and seek the public’s assistance in finding Murel Dean Amador,” Bellendir said. “Amador is a Hispanic male, 63 years of age, 5 feet 11 inches, 230 pounds, brown eyes, 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.”

The Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from other county and state agencies. It was assisted by officers from Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office, Rush County Sheriff’s Office and the Rice County Sheriff’s Office. Command officers from the Great Bend Fire Department were present at the morning briefing in the event of accidental overdose or injuries during the operation.

“This investigation has netted the widest variety and largest quantity of drugs seized by the Sheriff’s Office in approximately the last 30 years,” Bellendir said. “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. I would also like to thank members of the various agencies listed above for their assistance.”

Deputies were unable to locate one suspect and seek the public’s assistance in finding Murel Dean Amador.
Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir