A Portland-based drug network stretching into affluent suburbs and westbound to Oregon's quaint coastal cities and north into southwestern Washington is a key Mexican cartel strategy in establishing drug pipelines beyond the border into small, unsuspecting towns, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. "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 helped raid drug houses. "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." Heading the Portland drug ring is Victor Alvarez Farfan, a native of Michoacán, Mexico, who is 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.
Farfan 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. In just six months, smugglers brought across the border almost two kilos of fentanyl, up to 1 million lethal doses of the top drug killing Americans. That load was headed from Portland to Baltimore. Farfan's drug ring also sent drugs to Gresham, east of Portland, Hood River, a port on the Columbia River an hour northeast of Portland, and north into Tacoma, Wa. Robert Hammer of Homeland Security Investigations in Seattle said that cartels take advantage of the Interstate 5 corridor, a straight route that runs from the San Ysidro border crossing north through Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and into Vancouver, Canada. "They’re a business," Hammer said of cartels. "They send their businessmen out into the U.S. to look for areas of opportunity."