News and Press Releases

LEADER OF SOUTH SOUND DRUG TRAFFICKING RING GETS 7+ YEARS IN PRISON
Ring Distributed Hundreds of Pounds of Methamphetamine Each Month

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2009

HERMINIO BARRAGAN MENDOZA, 36, of Olympia, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 88 months in prison and five years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and being an Alien in Possession of a Firearm. BARRAGAN MENDOZA was a leader of a South Puget Sound drug trafficking organization that distributed hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine in Washington State each month. U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle ordered the defendant’s farm in Roy, Washington forfeited to the government. BARRAGAN MENDOZA is a Mexican National who was in the country illegally and likely will be deported following his prison term.

HERMINIO BARRAGAN MENDOZA was one of 22 people arrested in April 2008, following a lengthy investigation. On the day of the arrest more than 300 law enforcement officers served twenty search warrants and seized 20 pounds of methamphetamine – bringing the total for the fourteen month investigation to 89 pounds. Agents seized fifty firearms, and $255,000 in cash.

In addition to BARRAGAN MENDOZA, Epifanio Barragan Estrada was sentenced earlier this year to ten years in prison and five years of supervised release. Alejandro Calderon Franco was sentenced to five years in prison and five years of supervised release. Last week Robert Blanchard was sentenced to 46 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

In asking for a ten year prison term, Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Thomas wrote to the court that “The evidence has established that the defendant was a leader in this conspiracy with direct ties to the drug suppliers in Mexico. He was in charge of importing methamphetamine from Mexico and distributing it in Washington and other locations.”

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 is being 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 Prosecutors 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 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.

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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