HIGH LEVEL MEMBER OF SKAGIT COUNTY DRUG RING SENTENCED TO TEN YEARS IN PRISON
Defendant one of More Than 40 Arrested Following Lengthy Wire-Tap Investigation
CARLOS CASTRO-OCHOA, 29, of Burlington, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to ten years in prison for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, Cocaine and Heroin. CASTRO-OCHOA is a Mexican national who will be deported following his prison term. At sentencing CASTRO-OCHOA asked U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman for a short sentence saying his family would suffer while he was in prison. Judge Pechman noted that “hundreds of families suffered in Skagit County because of the drugs distributed by the defendant and his associates.” Judge Pechman said the drug ring left Skagit County “awash in drugs.”
On November 16, 2006, a federal grand jury returned charges following a year-long investigation by DEA and Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit (SCIDEU). On December 1, 2006, agents and officers arrested CASTRO-OCHOA and 25 other defendants. Some of the defendants sold heroin to undercover agents on multiple occasions. Members of the drug organization sold guns as well as drugs to undercover officers. Other defendants transported money from Skagit County that was destined for Mexico. This group used sophisticated hidden compartments in vehicles to transport drugs and money. Using court authorized wire-taps, investigators monitored the ring’s activities for approximately four months.
Over the course of the investigation law enforcement made undercover purchases totaling ten pounds of methamphetamine, five pounds of heroin, and five pounds of cocaine. In addition, agents seized more than $100,000 from the organization.
CASTRO-OCHOA pleaded guilty on May 15, 2007.
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 was investigated by the DEA, Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco & Explosives (ATF), Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit (SCIDEU), the Washington State Patrol (WSP), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Northwest Regional Drug Task Force (NWRDTF), the Skagit County Sheriff’s Department, the Burlington Police Department and the Mount Vernon Police Department. The Anacortes Police Department, Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force, and the Marysville Police Department SWAT unit assisted with the law enforcement activities at the time of the arrests on December 1, 2006.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Doug Whalley, Matthew Diggs, and John J. Lulejian. Mr. Lulejian is now with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.