News and Press Releases

Long Sentence Aimed at Deterring Others From Taking Lead of the Criminal Organization

December 16, 2009

CLAY FRANKLIN ROUECHE, 34, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 30 years in prison and five years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Export Cocaine, Conspiracy to Import Marijuana, and Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering. At sentencing Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said this was “a day of reckoning” for ROUECHE. “There are ...children, brothers, sisters and parents suffering every day because of the cocaine and marijuana disbursed by the Defendant and his fellow gang members. Children who go to bed hungry because parents spend the money they have feeding their habit.... These are not victimless crimes – they have a profound impact on the people, on neighborhoods and on the communities of our district,” Chief Judge Lasnik said.

ROUECHE was indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle in October 2007, but the indictment remained under seal until his arrest May 19, 2008, in Texas. ROUECHE had been attempting to enter Mexico. He was denied entry and escorted to a plane to return him to Canada. The plane stopped in Dallas, Texas, where he was arrested on a warrant from the Western District of Washington. In his plea agreement, ROUECHE admits that from 2005 on he conspired with others to export cocaine from the U.S. to Canada, and conspired to import B.C. Bud marijuana into the U.S. Further he admits in the plea agreement that he conspired with others to transport and deliver the cash proceeds from the illegal drug sales. The plea agreement resolves possible charges in other judicial districts in California, Oregon, Eastern Washington and Idaho.

For sentencing, prosecutors presented detailed information regarding the scope of the drug and money laundering conspiracies. ROUECHE “oversaw the movement of tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana, thousands of kilograms of cocaine, and millions of U.S. dollars through several states and at least three North American countries. He used private airplanes, float planes, helicopters, cars, semi-trucks and coded Blackberry telephones to create a secret and successful organization that he planned to extend into the Far East and South America,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

The investigation of ROUECHE spanned three years and resulted in a number of seizures including 2,169 pounds of Canadian marijuana, 335 kilograms of cocaine, $2,033,388 in U.S. currency, two pounds of crack cocaine, four pounds of methamphetamine, and five firearms. ROUECHE, as the leader of the UN Gang, “was the public face of this violent, quasi-corporate group, and led its drug trafficking endeavors. The group used guns, threats and violence to keep its contracted workers and gang members in line and to ensure that no one informed on the group’s activities,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

“This sentence should once again serve as a warning of the consequences awaiting individuals who engage in large-scale criminal activity that puts Americans and Canadians alike at risk,” said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Investigations in Seattle. “As head of one of the most ruthless and powerful criminal organizations operating in this region, Clay Roueche conducted himself with brazen impunity. Knowing that he will be spending many years behind bars is gratifying for ICE and the other local and international law enforcement agencies that worked tirelessly to see justice served in this case.”

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 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). CFSEU-BC and Canadian Law enforcement undertook their own investigation in Canada. Canadian and American legal procedures allowed for a limited but valuable exchange of information which was of key assistance. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Susan M. Roe and Roger Rogoff.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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