(THE OREGONIAN) -- For more than a day, the plastic orange toolbox sat on the lawn under a cherry tree, a few paces from the sidewalk.
No one passing the Canby home took notice. Not the runners. Not the dog walkers. Not the kids riding by on bicycles.
Then curiosity drew a 31-year-old landscaper who had come to the home just after sunset to help a friend move. Ivan Velasco Rodriguez poked the toolbox with a wooden rake handle.
The pipe bomb lurking inside exploded. Metal shards flying at bullet speed fatally injured Velasco Rodriguez and slammed into surrounding homes. Pieces fell on roofs two blocks away.
Canby police and federal agents swarmed the scene that night in December 2011. Who planted the booby trap that killed Velasco Rodriguez, a married father of four? And who was the intended target?
Police made no arrests, and the crime faded from public view.
But behind the scenes, federal law enforcement sources say, investigators reached a chilling conclusion: A Mexican drug cartel most likely commissioned the bomb to kill a witness who once listed the address as his own. Their suspicions deepened when they discovered the bombing was eerily similar to twin explosions in central Washington, where rigged devices killed two men hours apart in 2008.
The findings, never before disclosed to the public, were uncovered by The Oregonian as part of a nine-month investigation into the astonishing reach of Mexican drug cartels in the Northwest.
The Oregonian has learned that Mexican cartels, including the powerful Sinaloa and the brutal Los Zetas, have infiltrated almost every corner of Oregon. At last count, authorities were aware of no fewer than 69 drug trafficking organizations selling drugs in the state, nearly all supplied by cartels.
Police have taken down drug operations cloaked as a restaurant in Bend and a grocery in Hillsboro. They've busted traffickers in Gresham, Pendleton and, in a takedown last month involving 300 officers, in Klamath County. They've intercepted shipments from Oregon traffickers as far away as Texas, Minnesota and Florida.
Cartels and their allies control nearly every ounce of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine flowing into the region, investigators say, smuggling drugs up Interstate 5 by the ton and money back down by the millions. They dominate the marijuana market, tearing up Oregon forests for massive plantations. They exact an unfathomable toll in lives ruined and cut short by drug abuse. Read the entire article via The Oregonian...