Huge heroin bust rocks quiet Montavilla and Mill Park streets

Move over meth! Big-time heroin trafficking is now out into the ‘burbs! Get the inside story here …

Folks living around this Montavilla Neighborhood home say they feel unsettled that a house on their street is suspected to be involved with one of the largest heroin distribution operations in East Portland the cops have ever seen.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
We’ve all heard about the “methamphetamine epidemic” that swept outer East Portland. While the Mexican drug lords are still pumping the drug into our part of town; the dangerous methamphetamine labs are pretty much a thing of the past.

But some neighbors near the 9200 block of SE Market Street say they’re disquieted to learn heroin dealers had a “distribution center” set up on their otherwise quiet residential street, just south of SE Stark Street – mere blocks from area schools.

An observant few were not shocked. “Actually, I wasn’t surprised they were selling drugs there, based on what I’ve seen,” said a neighbor down the street, who begged not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

To get the facts, we talk with Portland Police Bureau Drugs and Vice Division (DVD) Captain Mark Kruger – a former Parkrose resident and long-time officer in East Precinct. He tells us information about the drug operation started coming to light on March 16th, when 28-year-old Kevin Caldwell Stoll died of a drug overdose in Northwest Portland.

“This death led us to begin an investigation; and 49-year-old Richard Williams was subsequently arrested,” Kruger says.

Using evidence obtained during the Williams investigation, officers developed information leading them to believe that Williams was supplied by a drug trafficking organization that was selling more than two pounds of heroin in the Portland Area every month.

With warrants in hand on August 19, DVD and precinct officers swept the SE Market Street house and seized approximately $17,000, two vehicles, and one ounce of heroin. They also executed search warrants on houses in the 1000 SE 114th Avenue in Mill Park and in the 3200 block of SE Palmquist Road in Gresham.

At the Montavilla address, “officers also discovered a room dedicated to the repackaging of heroin into small quantities for redistribution, and thousands of balloons used to distribute heroin,” Kruger adds.

Further, he said that investigators uncovered information that documents the fact that members of the drug operation made or received more than 8,000 calls in the past two months on telephones associated with the investigation.

Investigators arrested (left to right) 19-year-old Martin Camacho-Ramirez, 23-year-old Kevin Omar Castillo-Grajiola, 23-year-old Jose Gilberto Gracian, 21-year-old Casiano Huerte-Diego, and 18-year-old Edgar Zavala-Rodriguez – charging each with Distribution of a Controlled Substance and Conspiracy to Commit Distribution of a Controlled Substance.

Heroin moves east
“Heroin has been a problem on Oregon for many years – it is on a par with methamphetamine,” Kruger tells us.  “Heroin has been more associated with the downtown Portland scene. Now it’s moving around a lot more. The group [broken up in outer East Portland] was working almost exclusively on the East side.”

While this bust has “put a significant dent” in heroin distribution, Kruger adds, they’re still on the lookout for other drug dealers looking to supply heroin to users.

This investigation is ongoing.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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