News and Press Releases

TACOMA MAN CONVICTED IN LARGEST EVER HEROIN BUST
More than 22 Kilos of Heroin Seized in Tacoma Home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 6, 2009

A 32-year-old Mexican National was convicted in U.S. District Court in Tacoma this afternoon in connection with heroin trafficking. When ALFONSO IBANEZ MARTINEZ’s home on Park Avenue in Tacoma was searched in March 2007, investigators found more than 21 kilos of heroin in plain view and hidden in secret compartments and withing the plumbing fixtures. The jury deliberated one day before finding IBANEZ MARTINEZ guilty of Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin and two counts of Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute. The trial lasted three days in front of U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle. At sentencing on June 8, 2009, IBANEZ MARTINEZ faces a mandatory minimum ten years in prison and up to life in prison because of the large amount of heroin involved.

According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, IBANEZ MARTINEZ and a coconspirator sold heroin to a confidential informant who was working with police. During January and February 2007, Tacoma police officers observed IBANEZ MARTINEZ provide packages to his coconspirator, who then sold the drugs to the confidential source. Three drug sales occurred in the parking lots of a Safeway store in Tacoma and the El Compadre store in Tacoma. Following one of the drug sales, officers followed IBANEZ MARTINEZ to his home on Park Avenue. On March 1, 2007, IBANEZ MARTINEZ was arrested at the scene of a fourth drug sale, and his home and car were searched. Inside the car officers found heroin hidden behind a speaker in the door. Inside the home officers found packing materials and scales used in the drug trade. Concealed in some of the plumbing officers found 61 balls of heroin wrapped in duct tape – the heroin totaled about 14 kilos. In a hidden compartment above a closet officers found another 7 kilos of heroin. The total amount of heroin seized in the case surpassed any previous case in Tacoma.

The case was investigated by the Tacoma Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Douglas Hill. Mr. Hill is a Deputy Pierce County Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute drug cases in federal court.

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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