Two men who police believe were major heroin traffickers in Whatcom County were arrested in Bellingham Thursday, Feb. 17.
Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said Joseph Pantalia, 26, and Ryan Pantalia, 29, both of Ferndale, were able to distribute more than eight pounds of heroin in the county and on the Lummi Reservation every month.
Following a four-month investigation, both men were arrested at the Villa Inn motel on Samish Way Thursday.
Police seized more than a pound of heroin, which is worth approximately $25,000, as well as $51,000 in currency and a vehicle, Elfo said in a press release.
The men were booked into the Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of possessing and dealing heroin and marijuana. Ryan Pantalia remained in jail in lieu of $50,000 bail as of Friday evening, while Joseph Pantalia was released after posting bail.
More heroin, cash and a stolen firearm were seized from a home in Skagit County related to the Pantalias' arrests in Bellingham, Elfo said.
The men were investigated by the FBI, the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force, Lummi Nation Police Department, and the Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit.
"In recent months, we have seen a dramatic upswing in the availability and use of heroin in Whatcom County," Elfo said. "This investigation highlights the effective partnerships between law enforcement to drive this menace from our community."
As part of the investigation, police searched Ryan Pantalia's home in the 5000 block of LaBounty Drive last November and arrested another man, Jason A. LaClair, 27, for dealing heroin.
LaClair had sold heroin to an undercover agent three times prior to his arrest. LaClair pleaded guilty in Whatcom County Superior Court in January to two counts of dealing heroin. He was sentenced to about a year and a half in a state prison.