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Alleged leader of Cowlitz County drug trafficking organization pleads not guilty Thursday

A Longview man pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of leading and profiting from organized crime when he allegedly sent a runner to sell heroin and methamphetamines to a police informant last winter.

Efrein Velarde Pelayo, 33, of Longview also pled not guilty to three felony drug charges and first-degree criminal impersonation. When he was arrested on Oct. 5, Pelayo allegedly gave officers an alias and showed them a Florida ID card with his photo and the name Luis Perez Pagan.

Pelayo posted his $50,000 bail three days after his arrest, according to court records.

The probable cause statement for his case reports Pelayo sent a person to sell heroin or methamphetamines to a police informant, three times between Jan. 3 and Jan. 20 in Longview. During two encounters, police report the transaction occurred roughly 1,000 feet from a Longview School District bus stop. During one encounter, the transaction occurred about 1,000 feet from a Kelso School District bus stop.

The police said the informant paid Pelayo’s runner during another meet-up between Jan. 14 and 20 for a previous methamphetamine purchase. The Longview Police Department Street Crimes Unit said they watched each transaction.

According to police, the informant said he was previously a dealer for Pelayo’s “local drug trafficking organization.” The police also state Pelayo “has been named as a large drug supplier in other investigations that involved the arrest of other low- or mid-level dealers in the greater Cowlitz County area.”

His trial is scheduled for Dec. 28 in Cowlitz County Superior Court.

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