News and Press Releases

Ten Month Investigation of Cocaine, Heroin, and Methamphetamine Distribution Ring

May 9, 2008

The King County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration concluded “Operation Pink Tiger” today with the filing of charges against six defendants for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Methamphetamine. The arrests late yesterday bring to 17 the total number of defendants charged in the case. One charged defendant remains a fugitive. The operation took its name from the original target of the probe who went by the nickname “Tigre,” and the fact that cocaine was wrapped in distinctive pink cellophane. The first arrests and indictments in the case occurred in late March 2008, with the arrest of ten people for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Heroin. This investigation utilized court authorized wiretaps, which were left in place even after the first round of arrests. The wiretaps lead to additional evidence which resulted in the additional arrests.

Last night law enforcement executed seven search warrants and seized more than 16 kilos of cocaine, three guns and more than $203,000 in cash. Four cars were seized. An additional person was arrested for involvement in the drug conspiracy, but later was released when he was found to be a juvenile.

Eight search warrants were served on March 25, 2008, which resulted in ten arrests, seizure of two kilos of cocaine and a pound of heroin. In addition law enforcement seized three guns, eight cars and $40,000 in cash.

“This drug trafficking organization was based in Burien, Washington and had direct ties to Sinaloa, Mexico, an area directly responsible for sourcing drugs to the United States,” said Special Agent in Charge Arnold R. Moorin. “The organization was large, well established and was distributing over 30 kilograms of cocaine per month in the greater Seattle area. The Drug Enforcement Administration will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to combat and dismantle organizations such as these, who bring their illegal activities and violence to our communities.”

According to records filed in the case, using confidential informants and court authorized wiretaps, law enforcement was able to uncover a distribution ring for kilo quantities of cocaine and heroin centered around El Flamingo Restaurant in Burien, Washington. DOMINGO BAILON-YANEZ, 30, of Burien, was identified as the alleged leader of that distribution ring. El Flamingo Restaurant is owned by a relative of BAILON-YANEZ, and both the manager of the restaurant, RIGOBERTO SABALSA-LOZANO, 43, of SeaTac, and bartender CARLA RODRIGUEZ-ROMERO, 26, of Kent, have been charged in the case.

These defendants are indicted and were arrested in March 2008, for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Heroin:

DOMINGO BAILON-YANEZ 30, Burien, Washington
ALBERTO ROMAN-PEREZ, 26, Federal Way, Washington
ANTONIO SOTELO-TELLEZ, 29, Fife, Washington
CARLA RODRIGUEZ-ROMERO, 26, Kent, Washington
SIRINO HERNANDEZ-CORIA, 21, Burien, Washington
JOSE ORELLANA, 38, Burien, Washington
SAMUEL ESPINDOLA-VEJAR, 24, Burien, Washington

These defendants have been charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Methamphetamine and will make their initial appearance in federal court at 2:30 today:

JAVIER GASTELUM-INZUNZA, 29, Auburn, Washington
ALONSO ROJO-LOPEZ, 21, Burien, Washington
EFREN GALLEGOS-RAYMUNDO, 33, Burien, Washington
SALVADOR HERNANDEZ-ARGUELLO, 43, Maple Valley, Washington
OSCAR MANUEL VARGAS-FELIZ, 32, Federal Way, Washington
GUTAVO ROJO-MELENDEZ, 18, Burien, Washington

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Conspiracy to distribute the amounts of drugs involved in this case is punishable by a mandatory minimum ten years to life in prison and a $4 million fine. Use of a juvenile to facilitate a drug crime can add an enhancement to the sentencing range, under federal law.

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 King County Sheriff’s Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the FBI.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Vogel and Karyn Johnson.

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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