News and Press Releases

Operation “Capitol Cleansing” took 90 Lbs of Meth, 50 Firearms Off the Street

December 9, 2009

ABRAHAM BARRAGAN-ZEPEDA, 48, of Shasta Lake, California; FERNANDO BARRAGAN-ZEPEDA, 34, of Aberdeen, Washington; and RIGOBERTO GARFIAS-BARRAGAN, 37, of Shasta Lake, California, all pleaded guilty on Monday, December 7, 2009 before United States District Judge Benjamin H. Settle in the Western District of Washington to various charges, including conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, illegal use of a communication facility, and possession of firearms by an illegal alien. They are the last of 26 members of a large west coast methamphetamine distribution ring to plead guilty.

This case is the product of an extensive, joint investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Washington, California, and Oregon.

According to Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew H. Thomas and Ye-Ting Woo from the Western District of Washington and Michael M. Beckwith from the Eastern District of California, who are prosecuting the case, the BARRAGAN family ran a long-term methamphetamine distribution operation. They brought hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine from Artega, Mexico, through California to Western Washington. They regularly used the home of RIGOBERTO GARFIAS-BARRAGAN in Northern California as a “stash house” for drugs.

The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Settle on March 8, 2010, at 1:30 p.m. They face a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in prison, a $2,000,000 fine, and a four-year-to-life term of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The maximum statutory penalty for the illegal use of a communication facility is four years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a one-year term of supervised release for each count. Possession of firearms by an illegal alien carries the maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a three-year term of supervised release.
The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables and any applicable statutory sentencing factors.

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 Drug Enforcement Administration, Tacoma Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol, Puyallup Police Department, Bonney Lake Police Department, Auburn Police Department, Washington Department of Corrections, Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, Thurston County Sheriff’s Department, Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Department, Lakewood Police Department, Northwest HIDTA. Additionally these agencies contributed to this law enforcement effort: US Marshal’s Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Pacific County Sheriff's Department, Columbia River Drug Task Force, Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office, Kelso Police Department, Longview Police Department, Woodland Police Department, Tumwater Police Department, Lacey Police Department, Olympia Police Department, Aberdeen Police Department, Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team, Fife Police Department, Missoula HIDTA.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Thomas and Ye-Ting Woo in the Western District of Washington and Michael M. Beckwith from the Eastern District of California.

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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