News and Press Releases

FORMER COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENT SENTENCED TO 13+ YEARS IN PRISON FOR LEADING DRUG DISTRIBUTION RING
Mexican National Had $1.2 Million in Cash, 26 Kilos of Heroin and Cocaine at Time of Arrest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2008

JAVIER SANCHEZ-VASQUEZ, 28, a/k/a Augusto Cortes-Moran, a/k/a “Cookie,” was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 160 months in prison (13 years, 4 months) and five years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Heroin. SANCHEZ-VASQUEZ is a Mexican citizen and likely will be deported following his prison term. As part of the plea agreement from January 2008, SANCHEZ-VASQUEZ forfeits to the government more than $1.2 million in cash stashed in various homes and cars. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez commented that “the quantity of drugs and cash is substantial... it is one of the highest we’ve seen in federal court.”

According to records filed in the case, SANCHEZ-VASQUEZ ran a drug trafficking organization out of his residence in Kirkland, while he was enrolled in classes at Cascadia Community College. SANCHEZ-VASQUEZ was arrested in April 2007, following a a nine month investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force (SRDTF). As part of the probe, investigators used a confidential informant and court authorized wire taps of SANCHEZ-VASQUEZ’s telephone. The organization was bringing heroin and cocaine up from Mexico and distributing it in King and Snohomish counties. SANCHEZ-VASQUEZ told the informant he was “untouchable” by law enforcement. The case name for the operation became “Los Intocables” or “The Untouchables.”

On April 9, 2007, investigators served search warrants at SANCHEZ-VASQUEZ’s Kirkland home and at a stash house he had rented in north Seattle. At the two locations they found more than 16 kilos of cocaine and more than 10 kilos of heroin. In addition, investigators seized: $227,720 in cash from a vehicle in an Arlington commercial storage locker; $105,711 in cash from the Kirkland residence; $608,900 in cash from SANCHEZ-VASQUEZ’s black Ford Explorer; and $272,840 inside his White Honda Accord.

Special Assistant United States Attorney Adam Cornell argued that SANCHEZ-VASQUEZ as the leader of the drug ring should get the longest sentence. SANCHEZ-VASQUEZ “was the head of the snake,” Cornell said. “He had the time to take classes at community college while his underlings were running around delivering drugs.”

Three members of the drug ring have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced. Wilver Mira-Flores, a/k/a Macrino Acevedo-Cuevas, 27, pleaded guilty September 17, 2007, to Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Heroin and was sentenced December 14, 2007, to ten years in prison. Carlos Velasquez, a/k/a Gabriel Ramirez Castro, 31, pleaded guilty August 24, 2007, and was sentenced November 16, 2007, to five years in prison for Distribution of a Controlled Substance. Rodolfo Navarro-Gomez, 28, pleaded guilty July 31, 2007, and was sentenced on October 26, 2007, to five years in prison for Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Adam Cornell and Assistant United States Attorney Douglas Whalley. Mr. Cornell is a Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor specially designated to handle drug prosecutions in federal court.

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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