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SKAGIT COUNTY CRIME FAMILY MEMBERS SENTENCED TO SIGNIFICANT PRISON TERMS; MEXICAN DRUG RING LAUNDERED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 14, 2005

Members of the Garcia-Villalba Organization were sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison today for numerous Conspiracy, Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering counts. JOSE LUIS GARCIA-VILLALBA, 27, and JESUS ANTONIO GARCIA-VILLALBA, 22, both of Mt. Vernon, Washington, were each sentenced to 20 years in prison. ARMONDO GARCIA-VILLALBA, 20, was sentenced to ten years in prison. In imposing the lengthy sentences, U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman noted that two of the brothers managed the "huge operation" that turned Skagit County "into a cesspool swimming with drugs."

The men were convicted June 3, 2005, following a five week trial in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The evidence presented at trial revealed that the Garcia-Villalba Organization had been trafficking in drugs and money laundering as early as 2000. The family is based in Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico, but distributes cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine throughout the United States. Three additional members of the family have been indicted and remain fugitives. So far the government has charged approximately 100 people in Washington and Colorado with ties to this drug trafficking organization.

According to testimony at trial, the drugs were obtained in Mexico and brought across the border to Phoenix, Arizona. The drugs were then hidden in load cars and driven to various destinations for distribution, including Mt. Vernon, Washington. Some of those who were forced to drive loads of drugs or cash were drug addicts paying off their debts to the drug organization. "You took people who were weak, hurting and addicted and turned them into virtual slaves," said Judge Pechman at sentencing.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), the Skagit County Sheriff's Department, Mt. Vernon Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Anacortes Police Department, and Burlington Police Department. Local and federal law enforcement worked the case through the Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit (SCIDEU) and the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force.

Assistant United States Attorneys John J. Lulejian and James M. Lord prosecuted the case.

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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