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DRUG TRAFFICKER SENTENCED TO 14 YEARS IN PRISON FOR BC BUD IMPORTATION CONSPIRACY
Seattle Native Fled to Spain During Investigation of Conspiracy to Import More than 1,000 Kilos
of BC Bud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2009

DAVID R. MENDOZA, 44, formerly of Bellevue, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 14 years in prison and five years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Import more than 1,000 Kilos of Marijuana. When MENDOZA pleaded guilty June 19, 2009, both sides agreed to the 14 year prison sentence. MENDOZA has also agreed to forfeit four properties to the government. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly told MENDOZA, “You truly did have all the opportunities in the world – President of Garfield High School, you got a degree, -- and then you got involved in drugs.... It’s tragic.... You don’t have anybody to blame but yourself.”

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 and returned to the U.S. in May 2009. MENDOZA was identified as the leader of a conspiracy to smuggle multiple 100 kilo loads of BC Bud marijuana into the US by commercial trucks and by helicopter. In his plea agreement MENDOZA admits he was responsible for a 400 kilo load of BC Bud intercepted at the border crossing at Blaine, Washington in April 2003. The drugs were hidden in a load of lumber. In 2005, MENDOZA admits he imported more than 1000 kilos of BC Bud via helicopter into Washington State. In 2006, additional loads of marijuana belonging to MENDOZA were seized. MENDOZA admits he is responsible for importing and distributing thousands of pounds of marijuana in Washington and elsewhere.

MENDOZA has two 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.

In the government sentencing memo, prosecutors note that MENDOZA has been involved in the drug trade for more than two decades. “He is a man of talent, intelligence and great charm. Unfortunately, he has spent the past 20 years of his life committing crimes, smuggling drugs, and moving money through semi-phony businesses. Most disturbing, he has regularly used his aging parents to move money for him,” Assistant United States Attorney Susan M. Roe and Roger Rogoff wrote in their sentencing memo.

As part of the plea agreement, MENDOZA is forfeiting to the government properties he owns in Bellevue, Tacoma and Deer Park, Washington, as well as a movie theater in Bend, Oregon. MENDOZA admits these properties were purchased with the proceeds of the drug conspiracy.

“Today’s prison sentence is a reminder of the serious consequences drug traffickers face for trying to bring illicit drugs into our communities,” said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Seattle. “ICE remains committed to dismantling the international drug trade while ensuring that those who are involved don’t benefit financially.”

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Susan M. Roe, Roger Rogoff and Richard Cohen.

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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