News and Press Releases

Defendant had Four Prior Drug Convictions; Was Arrested with Load of Methamphetamine

September 4, 2009

A 50-year-old Seattle area resident with a history of drug trafficking, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 20 years in prison and 10 years of supervised release for Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute. ANDRES HERNANDEZ-VARGAS, a/k/a JORGE BARRAJAS-SANDOVAL, a/k/a JESUS LOPEZ-SANDOVAL, was convicted May 29, 2009, following a three-day jury trial in front of U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton. At sentencing Judge Leighton noted the 99% purity of the methamphetamine saying it “was acquired directly from or close to the source.... Methamphetamine destroys families, it destroys communities.... It is poison and it is harmful always.”

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 12 hours, and then immediately returned, driving through the night along I-5 back to Washington. A King County Sheriff’s Detective 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 four previous felony drug convictions in King County Superior Court: Possession of Heroin (1997), Possession of Cocaine (1991), Delivery of Heroin (1989) and Delivery of Cocaine (1988).

In their sentencing memo, prosecutors note that HERNANDEZ-VARGAS brought large amounts of meth into the community, damaging many lives. “Methamphetamine abuse is a scourge that leads to many other crimes, including violent ones. By bringing large quantities of methamphetamine into this state for distribution to others, the defendant made himself a part of this scourge,” Assistant United States Attorney Michael Scoville wrote to the court.

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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