News and Press Releases

Defendant Arrested as He Drove from California with Load of Methamphetamine

June 1, 2009

A 50-year-old Seattle area resident with a history of drug trafficking, was found guilty in U.S. District Court in Tacoma last week of Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute. ANDRES HERNANDEZ-VARGAS, a/k/a JORGE BARRAJAS-SANDOVAL, a/k/a JESUS LOPEZ-SANDOVAL was convicted following a three day jury trial in front of U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton. The jury deliberated about four hours before finding HERNANDEZ-VARGAS guilty. HERNANDEZ-VARGAS faces a mandatory minimum 20 years in prison to life in prison when sentenced on September 4, 2009.

According to testimony at trial and records filed in the case, HERNANDEZ-VARGAS was identified by a confidential informant working with law enforcement as someone who was trafficking methamphetamine. Based on the detailed information from the confidential source, law enforcement placed a GPS tracking device on the defendant’s truck in order to track the defendant’s movements on public roads. The GPS data indicated that in October 2008, HERNANDEZ-VARGAS drove down I-5 to the Sacramento, California area, in approximately twelve hours, and then immediately returned, driving through the night along I-5 back to Washington. A King County Sheriff’s Deputy stopped HERNANDEZ-VARGAS in his vehicle after determining that he was exceeding the speed limit on I-5. HERNANDEZ-VARGAS was arrested when a check of immigration records revealed he was in the country illegally. Later, a drug detecting K-9 officer alerted to the truck and officers recovered a pound of methamphetamine hidden in a compartment below the windshield wipers.

HERNANDEZ-VARGAS has three previous drug trafficking convictions in King County Superior Court: Possession of Heroin (1997), Delivery of Heroin (1989) and Delivery of Cocaine (1988).

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO).

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Scoville and Annette Hayes.

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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