The DEA and local law enforcement officials have released information this week about a Kennewick man who was arrested a few days ago, suspected of running a  major fentanyl drug ring. He'd been under investigation for being a major supplier/transporter of fentanyl and other poly-drugs.

Michael Vantiger, age not given, was stopped February 10 on I-82 northbound near Benton City. A woman named Gloria Gomez was behind the wheel, Vantiger in passenger seat.

He'd been under surveillance for some time, using GPS and other tracking devices. Authorities learned Vantiger was allegedly traveling to California to pick up shipments of illegal narcotics, including fake Oxycontin, and Fentanyl.  He was also believed to be recruiting 'drivers' to help him by way of notices or ads on Facebook. His movements were tracked by GPS as well as visual surveillance.

When Vantiger was stopped, he and the woman began to act nervous, anxious and eventually Pasco PD drug K-9 dog Ezra was brought in. The dog alerted on the car, meaning it began to give the warning signs it detected drugs on board. After searching, officials found at least 53,000 Fentanyl pills hidden in the trunk, under the carpet by the spare tire.

When questioned, officials learned from the suspect that he did not know the name of his supplier in CA, he was a load driver, and was paid up to $5000 per trip. He said he did not specifically know the name or what was in the load he picked up, but knew it had illegal narcotics in it.

Local law enforcement officials noticed some of the pills were royal blue, others off white. DEA and other drug investigators say illegal manufacturers are trying to branch out and produce more types of fentanyl pills, in addition to the 'fake Oxys.'

Officials also found at least 150 such pills in his home during a search.

This is considered a major bust, as local authorities say the pills seized matched many that are being found in area narcotics searches and raids. Vantiger has been booked on a number of federal charges.


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