News and Press Releases

Eastside man at center of drug probe that led to prison terms for two lawyers

December 9, 2005

ROBERT V. KESLING, 27, of Seattle, Washington, was sentenced today to 17 years in prison, and five years of supervised release in U.S. District Court in Seattle for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Marijuana. In sentencing KESLING today U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez told him "these amounts of drugs are very high, even by federal court standards."

KESLING pleaded guilty September 9, 2005, admitting that during 2004 and continuing until his arrest on May 10, 2005, he took delivery of multi-kilogram shipments of cocaine from others in the United States, and thereafter assisted in shipping that cocaine to Canada. In addition, he took delivery of 100 pound shipments of marijuana from Canada, and assisted in distributing that marijuana in the United States. The cocaine and marijuana were stored at various locations, including a residence in Woodinville, Washington, controlled by KESLING and others. On February 28, 2005, suitcases containing 149 kilogram bricks of cocaine were seized by law enforcement from a vehicle in Monroe, Washington. This cocaine, valued at $34 million, was intended by KESLING for delivery to others in Canada. On March 1, 2005, 450 pounds of packaged marijuana valued at more than $1 million were recovered by law enforcement from the Woodinville residence, intended by KESLING for distribution in the United States.

In their sentencing memo to the court, prosecutors say KESLING was responsible for hundreds of kilos of cocaine going north to Canada, and thousands of pounds of marijuana being imported into the United States. "(KESLING) was the one who knew the sources of supply for the cocaine in California and Mexico. He was the one that traveled to Las Vegas, and twice to Mexico to meet with the principals ... He was the one that knew the marijuana suppliers in Canada, and was communicating with them through others. Kesling was the one they all trusted, and Kesling was the one they relied on to insure the success of their operations in the Western District of Washington."

As part of his guilty plea, KESLING also agreed to forfeit and abandon his interest in a boat, a 2005 Dodge Ram truck, a 2004 Lexus, two Harley Davidson motorcycles, computer equipment, a 36 inch flat screen television, jewelry, over $250,000 cash, a utility trailer, and numerous firearms, including several handguns.

"This case is representative of ICE's commitment to disrupt and deter international narcotics smuggling activity," said Leigh Winchell, special agent-in-charge for ICE investigations in Seattle. "It is also indicative of our overall law enforcement effort to safeguard our communites. ICE's goal is to identify and dismantle criminal organizations like this one that seek to profit from their illicit activities."

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. This case was investigated by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID). The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ron Friedman and Susan Roe.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington, at (206) 553-4110.

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