News and Press Releases

Judge Calls Size of Drug Shipments “Staggering”

May 26, 2009

A 21-year-old Renton resident will spend twenty years in federal prison for leading a large, international cocaine and methamphetamine drug distribution ring. As he imposed the sentence in Seattle today, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said he was aware that the sentence almost equaled JOSE BARRAZA-VIDAL’s age. Judge Robart said the lengthy sentence was justified by the large drug ring, the “staggering” size of the drug shipments, and BARRAZA-VIDAL’s “remorseless willingness to involve others in the drug ring.” Following his prison term, BARRAZA-VIDAL, who was illegally in the United States, will be deported to Mexico.

BARRAZA-VIDAL was the Seattle-based leader of an international drug trafficking ring that was dismantled with arrests in the Seattle area and Idaho in September 2008. Using court authorized wiretaps, law enforcement was able to track the activities of the drug organization, and made arrests as the organization transported 15 kilograms of cocaine and 4 pounds of methamphetamine from Mexico to Seattle. More than two dozen people were arrested in Idaho and Washington, and authorities seized 50 kilos of cocaine,16 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately $940,000 in cash, and numerous cars and boats.

In asking for the twenty year sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Lisca Borichewski described BARRAZA-VIDAL’s leadership role in the drug ring saying there were more than 1,000 recorded telephone calls, during which BARRAZA-VIDAL “recruited individuals in Mexico as runners for the drug organization, and smuggled these individuals across the border.... (He) structured the electronic wiring of drug proceeds to numerous individuals in Mexico to avoid detection by law enforcement.”

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 (DEA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Seattle Police Department and King County Sheriff’s Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lisca Borichewski and Doug Whalley.

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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