News and Press Releases


December 24, 2008

JOON SUR RHEE, 43, of Renton, Washington pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to the felony charge of Distributing Red Phosphorus For Purposes of Manufacturing Methamphetamine in connection with a drug trafficking investigation in southwest Washington.

The offense is punishable by up to twenty years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and a period of supervised release of three years to follow imprisonment.

According to court records filed in the case, during February 2008, RHEE met with Richard Ciarlo, 45, of southwest Washington, and delivered to Ciarlo five pounds of red phosphorus which RHEE and Ciarlo were intending to be sold to a methamphetamine cook. Red phosphorus is a highly regulated chemical commonly used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Law enforcement intercepted and seized the red phosphorus in Kelso, Washington, and arrested Ciarlo and RHEE. A follow-up search of RHEE’s residence disclosed additional quantities of red phosphorus which were seized.

Ciarlo has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. Sentencing for RHEE is set for April 3, 2009.

This case is part of a continuing Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation focused upon the unlawful trafficking in pharmaceutical controlled chemicals and substances. The case was investigated by the Cowlitz-Wakiakum Drug Task Force, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald J. Friedman.

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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