News and Press Releases

Pair Sold Highly Pure Methamphetamine to Undercover Officers – Transported Drugs and Money in Hidden Compartments

September 29, 2006

HECTOR JUAN FELIX, 22, and CARLO SERGIO SAMANIEGO-OCHOA, 21, both of Lynnwood, Washington were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to lengthy prison terms in connection with their dealing highly pure methamphetamine in Snohomish County. U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman sentenced FELIX to 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release. SAMANIEGO-OCHOA was sentenced to 46 months in prison. SAMANIEGO-OCHOA is a Mexican national who was in the United States illegally and will be deported following his prison term.

Both men were arrested in December 2005, following a ten month investigation, dubbed “Operation El Gato,” that included a court ordered wiretap. According to documents filed in the case, on nine different occasions between May and November of 2005, FELIX sold highly pure methamphetamine to undercover agents in Snohomish County. On November 22, 2005, the Washington State Patrol stopped FELIX and SAMANIEGO-OCHOA as they traveled south on I-5. A search of the car revealed hidden compartments under the passenger side airbag and under the center console. In these compartments investigators found methamphetamine, $18,000 cash, which included $4,600 in recorded bills used for an earlier undercover drug transaction, and a Colt .45 caliber handgun. Hanging from the rear view mirror, investigators found a medallion honoring the patron saint of drug dealers, Jesus Malverde. Less than two weeks later, FELIX and SAMANIEGO-OCHOA were arrested at the Wal-Mart parking lot in Snohomish County when they attempted to deliver more than a pound of highly pure methamphetamine to an undercover officer.

Both FELIX and SAMANIEGO-OCHOA pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine. The charge against FELIX carries a ten year mandatory minimum prison term.

In asking for the lengthy sentence, Assistant United States Attorney John J. Lulejian cited the ease with which FELIX was able to obtain large quantities of highly pure methamphetamine. “What is troubling in this case, is not the number of drug transactions . . . but the fact that a twenty-one year old drug trafficker was able to quickly obtain significant quantities of high-quality methamphetamine. . . . The fact that Felix had these quantities of drugs at his disposal, suggests that he could obtain even larger quantities of methamphetamine,” Lulejian and Special Assistant United States Attorney Adam W. Cornell wrote in their sentencing memorandum.

In handing down the sentences, Judge Pechman made it a point to emphasize the harm caused by methamphetamine throughout the United States: “It goes without saying that methamphetamine is a horrible drug. It is the greatest scourge. It causes so much hardship and crime, that I sometimes despair that we'll come out of this cycle.”

The case was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Snohomish County Regional Drug Task Force. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John J. Lulejian, Special Assistant United States Attorney Adam W. Cornell and DOJ Trial Attorney Jennie L.Basile.

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

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