DEFENDANT PLEADS GUILTY TO LEADING DRUG RING LINKED TO NOTORIOUS “LA FAMILIA” CARTEL
Renton Man Facing more than a Decade in Prison
ARTURO J. BARAJAS GARCIA, 32, Renton, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances and Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering. BARAJAS GARCIA was arrested in October 2009, as part of a nationwide crackdown dubbed “Project Coronado.” A total of twenty people were charged in federal court in the Western District of Washington in a conspiracy to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine in connection with the “La Familia” crime syndicate. The investigation, begun in December 2008, links the distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine to the cartel based in Michoacan, Mexico. Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of thirteen to seventeen years in prison when BARAJAS GARCIA is sentenced on May 14, 2010 by U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez.
On October 21, 2009 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) led task force searched 19 residences and 22 vehicles in Washington and California, and seized 28 pounds of methamphetamine, 11 kilos of cocaine, seven guns, and an estimated $230,000 in cash. The defendants were arrested in Renton, Monroe, Kent, Everett and Snohomish, Washington. Two additional defendants were arrested in Modesto and Madera, California.
In his plea agreement, BARAJAS GARCIA admits he conspired with others to arrange the importation and distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine from other parts of the U.S. and Mexico. BARAJAS GARCIA admits he managed the local storage and distribution of the drugs. In late September 2009, BARAJAS GARCIA arranged the purchase and transportation of six pounds of methamphetamine. The drugs were picked up in California and brought to the Seattle area for distribution to users.
Many of the cars associated with the drug organization were equipped with secret compartments for carrying drugs from suppliers in the south. Those same hidden compartments are then used to transport money back to the source of supply. Of the eleven vehicles seized in the case, at least three had secret traps.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, BARAJAS GARCIA is forfeiting any interest he has in nearly $230,000 in cash, a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado, seven guns, and property in Monroe, Washington as proceeds of the drug conspiracy.
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), and the South Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force consisting of Lynnwood Police Department, Mountlake Terrace Police Department, and Edmonds Police Department. The Burien Police Department, King County Sheriff's Office, the Seattle Police Department, Monroe Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Marshal's Service also participated in the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Vogel and Special Assistant United States Attorney Adam Cornell. Mr. Cornell is a Deputy Snohomish County Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute drug crimes 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 .