SEASIDE, Ore. — This tranquil coastal town is known for its wide beaches and grand promenade ― and for becoming a target for drug traffickers peddling meth supplied by a Mexican super cartel.
Drug dealers may not have worried about being caught here, in Clatsop County, a 90-minute drive northwest from the bustling city of Portland.
But they didn’t know about dogged sheriff’s detective John Walker, who developed informants and bought drugs while undercover. FBI agents lauded Walker’s work, which helped the Bureau and Homeland Security Investigations expose an extensive drug distribution cell that targeted the Pacific Northwest.
It was run by a deported felon who kept sneaking back across the border.
The Portland-based drug network, which stretched into affluent area suburbs, westbound to Oregon’s quaint coastal cities and north into southwestern Washington, is emblematic of a key Mexican cartel strategy to establish drug pipelines far beyond the border and into small, unsuspecting towns.
“When you hear about the drug cartels and the amounts of drugs coming across the border, you start thinking those are big city problems,” said Clatsop County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Hoover, who oversaw Walker and teamed to raid area drug houses in the case.
“But if you have drugs in your community, and I don’t think there is any community that can say they don’t have any, it is coming from the drug cartels. It’s still a little shocking when you can tie it together and say for certain that’s where it came from.”
Victor Alvarez Farfan, a native of Michoacán, Mexico, headed the Portland drug ring blamed for bringing large amounts of meth, heroin and fentanyl across the border beginning in October 2017.
He previously was convicted on federal drug charges in the U.S. and was deported at least twice. He had at least five aliases and kept slipping back into the U.S.
He and Helida Montes, his partner for 16 years, settled their two children in Oregon City as Farfan grew his business, roping in two of his nephews.