Barton Co. Sheriff: ‘Operation Snowplow’ drug bust claims $500K worth of illegal drugs


The Barton County Sheriff’s Office made a major drug bust early Monday morning, confiscating nine kinds of illicit substances valued at $500,000.

The office said “Operation Snowplow” was the culmination of several months of investigative work conducted by detectives. The sheriff’s office along with several other agencies executed a total of nine search warrants in Barton County, including six addresses and three motor vehicles.

The investigation began as a cocaine distribution case, but as detectives went undercover to purchases those drugs, they say the case grew drastically into a major distribution case involving all types of drugs.

Police say they became alarmed with detectives found imitation hydrocodone tablets. The tablets had been manufactured to look like 5 milligram hydrocodone prescription drugs, but were laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful painkiller, more powerful than morphine and is far more likely to cause an overdose leading to death. Police said lab analysis showed the tablets were some of the strongest ever analyzed in the State of Kansas.

In addition, police found quantities of black tar heroin, which hasn’t been a common find in western Kansas 20 years. The police said there is a strong likelihood most of these drugs originated in Mexico and were smuggled into the United States, as police discovered evidence of money order and wire transfers of money to Mexico.

The drugs found came to an estimated amount of 200 doses of LCD, 10 kilograms of marijuana, 1.5 kilograms of wax marijuana, 2 ounces of black tar heroin, 160 fluid ounces of liquid codeine, 1 kilogram of methamphetamine, 2 kilograms of “suspected” China white heroin, 8 ounces of cocaine, and 6 ounces of suspected fentanyl.

Those substances have an estimated street value of the drugs in excess of $500,000. Police also seized a rifle and two shotguns, one of which had been sawed off, as well as multiple rounds of ammunition; more than $25,000 cash and three vehicles were also taken during the raids. The sheriff’s office is also considering the seizure of real estate related to the case.

Among those arrested on various suspicions were 21-year-old Iban Martinez-Enrique, 22-year-old Miguel Gonzalez, 42-year-old Candice Johnson, 19-year-old Kennedy Beakey, 20-year-old Pedro Garcia, and 51-year-old Vincente Espino. All are from Great Bend. Espino and Martinez-Enrique has the highest bonds, each set at $100,000.

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