News and Press Releases

Long-Time Seattle Area Resident with two Prior Drug Convictions Captured after Years on the Run

May 4, 2009

DAVID R. MENDOZA, 44, formerly of Bellevue, Washington, was flown into Seattle May 1, 2009, and will make his initial appearance at 2:30 today in U.S. District Court in Seattle on a seven count indictment charging him in a drug trafficking and marijuana scheme. The first indictment in this case was returned in December 2006, and the indictment was unsealed in January 2007, after MENDOZA was located in Spain. MENDOZA was successfully extradited from Spain last month. A superseding indictment was returned in the case in May 2007.

MENDOZA was identified as the leader of a conspiracy to smuggle more than 100 kilo loads of BC Bud marijuana into the U.S., including several smuggles by helicopter. MENDOZA is specifically charged in smuggling runs on August 4, 2005, February 7, 2006, and multiple loads between June 1 and August 17, 2006.

MENDOZA is charged with Conspiracy to Import Marijuana, Conspiracy to Possess Marijuana aboard an Arriving Aircraft, three counts of Possession of Marijuana Aboard an Arriving Aircraft, Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering, and Structuring Financial Transactions. If convicted MENDOZA faces up to life in prison. MENDOZA faces an enhanced penalty of a minimum mandatory term of 20 years if convicted on some counts because of prior drug convictions: a 1990 conviction in Nevada for possession of cocaine, and a 1993 conviction in the Western District of Washington for Conspiracy to Import Hashish and for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Hashish.

The government is moving to forfeit properties MENDOZA owns in Bellevue and Deer Park, Washington, as well as a movie theater in Bend, Oregon. The government alleges that these properties were purchase with the proceeds of the drug conspiracy. The indictment alleges that MENDOZA made more than fifty $2500 deposits into bank accounts in June and July 2005, to avoid bank reporting requirements.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Susan M. Roe.

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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