Other items: 11 more men charged in smuggling of pot; Federal Way man fatally struck by truck is identified; new arrests called part of Lynnwood ID-theft ring; and Everett schools locked down until suspect caught.

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About 20 members of the 144th Army Liaison Team will head to Afghanistan in the next few months, the state military department has announced.

Liaison team members, based at Camp Murray in Pierce County, were alerted in October that they were being called to serve yearlong tours of duty; they reported to Fort Lewis for pre-deployment training last week, the military said.

The specialized unit will work at the Joint Forces Headquarters in Afghanistan in concert with people working for the NATO alliance.


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11 more men charged in smuggling of pot

Federal prosecutors said yesterday they have charged another 11 men in a major marijuana-smuggling operation, bringing the total charged to 22 and the total amount of pot seized to 3,400 pounds.

The conspirators used hidden compartments in tractor-trailer rigs to smuggle the marijuana and millions of dollars across the Canadian border from British Columbia, prosecutors said. In the past 10 days, investigators seized $3.4 million, 400 pounds of marijuana and a dozen firearms.

Investigators made the first arrests in the case earlier this month. Charging papers said the operation was led by Long Van Nguyen, 38, of Tacoma, and Nghia Pham, 36, of Auburn.

The 22 charged worked at various levels throughout the criminal enterprise, prosecutors said. In addition, 15 other people have been arrested but were released pending further investigation.

Federal Way

Man fatally struck by truck is identified

A Federal Way man who died after he was hit by a truck Tuesday night has been identified as Gary Bigelow.

Bigelow, 47, ran onto the roadway in the 36000 block of Highway 99 and was hit by a pickup, said Federal Way police Lt. Chris Norman. Shortly after the 7:30 p.m. crash, Bigelow died at the scene.

The driver was not believed to be at fault, Norman said.

“It was dark, it was a piece of open road [with] two lanes in each direction,” Norman said. The truck appeared to be going at or near the speed limit, he said.


New arrests called part of ID-theft ring

Six people allegedly involved in a Lynnwood identity-theft ring were arrested this week.

Three people arrested Monday by Sammamish police on suspicion of burglary and possession of stolen property tipped investigators to similar crimes in Lynnwood, said King County sheriff’s Sgt. John Urquhart.

Tuesday morning, Lynnwood investigators arrested three people at a house in the 4200 block of Stonebridge Way on suspicion of possession of stolen property, identity theft and forgery. Police also found a stolen car and stolen mail there, said Lynnwood police Sgt. Jerry Riener.

Riener said it was unclear how many people were victimized but that residents were targeted in Everett, Edmonds, Seattle, Lynnwood, Sammamish and Bothell.


Schools locked down until suspect caught

Silver Firs Elementary and Gateway Middle schools were locked down for 1½ hours yesterday as Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies searched for a man who burglarized a home in the 5900 block of 152nd Street Southeast.

The 26-year-old Everett man had left his car parked outside the home and ran once deputies arrived shortly before 10 a.m., according to Deputy Rich Niebusch.

Deputies used a police dog to track him through the neighborhood for about two hours. He was spotted running in the area of the two schools, so they were locked down as a precaution until he was arrested, Niebusch said.

The man was booked into the Snohomish County Jail last night on a burglary warrant in Seattle and on the new residential-burglary charge.


Donated van replaces group’s stolen one

Community Transit donated a used van to Volunteers of America yesterday after the one used to take the group’s seasonal bell ringers to area shopping centers was stolen last weekend.

After checking agency rules for donations, Joyce Olson, chief executive officer for Community Transit, turned over the keys for an eight-passenger 1995 GMC van to the bell ringers’ coordinator, Gilbert Saparto, who retired as president of Volunteers of America, Western Washington.

Community Transit, which runs one of the nation’s largest van-pool fleets, typically sells or donates vans after they’ve logged 70,000 to 100,000 miles.

The van that was stolen was owned by the nonprofit’s Theodora Corp., which used it throughout the year to take veterans and elderly adults living at its Seattle residential center to doctor appointments and special events.

Times staff and news services