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SUNNYSIDE MAN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR CONSPIRACY TO IMPORT MORE THAN A QUARTER TON OF PSEUDOEPHEDRINE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2005

RAFAEL CARONA-ALVAREZ, 24, of Sunnyside, Washington, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 3 years of supervised release today for Conspiracy to Import Pseudoephedrine with Intent to Manufacture Methamphetamine. In sentencing CARONA-ALVAREZ, U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly stated that it was "an extraordinary amount of drugs." At the time of the arrest it was the largest seizure of pseudoephedrine in Western Washington.

CARONA-ALVAREZ was convicted in a jury trial in September 2004. Court testimony showed that CARONA-ALVAREZ and several associates conspired to import more than a quarter ton of pseudoephedrine through the Lynden, Washington border crossing from Canada. The load was welded inside a secret compartment in a trailer driven by two women, one of whom was a Yakima County Corrections Officer. Pseudoephedrine is a key precursor chemical in the production of methamphetamine.

In asking the court for the lengthy sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Douglas B. Whalley noted, "The seriousness of the offense is clear – not just because it is a drug offense, but because the quantity of pseudoephedrine involved was incredible. It was the largest seizure of pseudoephedrine at the Lynden crossing in history. The pseudoephedrine would have produced a huge quantity of methamphetamine, which would have in turn devastated lives in the Yakima area."

The case was investigated jointly by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. CARONA-ALVAREZ is one of four defendants convicted in the investigation. Two men are still fugitives. The investigation was funded in part by the Federal Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Program, a special Justice Department program funding investigations relating to significant international drug organizations.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Douglas B. Whalley. For further information, please contact Emily Langlie, Public Information Officer, at (206) 553-4110.

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