Authorities are hopeful that the Tuesday morning arrests of 16 people on federal drug charges will have a lasting impact on the Fremont area.
The 16 people were arrested as part of “Operation Patt Down” — a reference to the business accused of housing the drug operation — following a more than two-year investigation originated by the III-CORPS Drug Task Force.
“The impact that it’s going to make on the city of Fremont, for at least some time, is going to be realized not only on the street by officers, but by those other drug dealers who weren’t arrested today,” Lt. Shane Wimer of the Fremont Police Department said.
Fifteen of the people were arrested for conspiracy to deliver oxycodone. They were:
* Davis J. Patterson, 31, of Fremont.
* Dylan B. Patterson, 23, of Fremont.
* Chris E.W. Dilley, 36, of Fremont.
* Michael D. Andrews, 45, of Fremont.
* Jesse W. Rinaker, 32, of Fremont.
* Darren E. Stewart, 29, of Fremont.
* Casey L. Stewart, 26, of Fremont.
* Cole A. Gustafson, 37, of Hooper.
* Evan C. Christensen, 31, of Fremont.
* Thomas E. Layman, 32, of Fremont/Dodge County.
* Corey J. Arnold, 33, of Fremont.
* Nash Hammond, 22, of Fremont.
* Donald J. Wiggins, 50, of Fremont.
* Daniel Espinoza, 30, of Fremont.
* Seth Verbeek, 25, of Fremont.
Benjamin V. Desilva, 64, of Cedar Bluffs/Fremont was arrested for conspiracy to deliver morphine.
Espinoza was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Missouri, while all the others were arrested in Nebraska.
“The abuse of prescription drugs has gone up radically here in the last few years, and it’s almost to a point where it’s a bigger problem than the illegal drugs,” Deputy Chief Jeff Elliott of the Fremont Police Department said. “Prescription drugs affect people just as other drugs would, and it causes problems on the street. People need money to buy those drugs and they end up committing a number of other crimes to get the money so they can purchase prescription drugs.”
Wimer said the drug trafficking organization was run out of Patt’s Rental Center at 1460 W. 23rd St.
Individuals would fill prescriptions — using other people’s identities — in other states and bring those drugs back to sell in the Fremont area. Prescriptions also were filled locally and sold in other areas.
A large portion of the operation, which Wimer said netted “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” was focused on the East coast.
Wimer said that while Tuesday morning’s arrests were the culmination of the law enforcement’s efforts, the investigation will continue.
“It just doesn’t stop today,” Wimer said. “It’s going to get larger as we start to interview and question these people.”
Members of the drug task force, as well as personnel from the Fremont and Blair police departments and Dodge County Sheriff’s Office, served the search and arrest warrants on Tuesday.
Assistance also was provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Secret Service, Nebraska State Patrol, United States Attorney’s Office and Dodge County Attorney’s Office.
“We are very pleased with how everything worked and the cooperation of all the agencies involved,” Elliott said.