BELLINGHAM COUPLE SENTENCED FOR COCAINE TRAFFICKING
Defendant Sent Wife to Drug Deal with Undercover Police Officer
A Bellingham couple were sentenced in U.S. District Court in Seattle late yesterday for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine. JOSE G. PERALES-VENEGAS, 33, and his wife NEREYDA YASMIN PERALES, 26, were arrested April 17, 2009, following a drug deal with an undercover police officer. PERALES-VENEGAS was sentenced to 60 months in prison and four years of supervised release. PERALES was sentenced to 10 months in prison and four years of supervised release. The United States Attorney’s Office had urged the court to impose a harsher sentence on Mr. PERALES-VENEGAS because he caused a firearm to be involved in a drug transaction.
In sentencing the defendants, District Judge Marsha J. Pechman said she could not understand how Mr. PERALES-VENEGAS could involve his wife in selling drugs. She also noted the high price he has paid for selling drugs: in addition to spending a long time in prison, he will be deported from the United States, he lost his home to foreclosure, and he will be separated from his family, perhaps forever. Noting that Mr. PERALES-VENEGAS was working at the El Cazador Restaurant in Burlington, the Judge opined that drug trafficking through such restaurants in Whatcom and Skagit counties is “rampant.”
According to records filed in the case, in early February of 2009, the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force (NWRDTF) began an investigation of cocaine trafficking in Whatcom County, Washington. An undercover police officer purchased cocaine from JOSE PERALES-VENEGAS on two occasions in February. The men negotiated a larger sale of two kilograms of the drug in April. The drugs were to be delivered on April 17, 2009. Agents observed NEREYDA YASIM PERALES leave the family home and drop her husband off at the El Cazador Restaurant where he worked. She then drove to the marina where the drug deal was to take place. After NEREYDA YASIM PERALES delivered the drugs and accepted $55,000 in cash she was arrested.
The defendants were originally charged in Whatcom County Superior Court. Following close consultation with the Whatcom County Prosecutors Office and the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force (NWRDTF), the case was referred for federal prosecution. The defendants pleaded guilty December 3, 2009.
The case was investigated by the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force (NWRDTF), including officers and agents from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department, Ferndale Police Department, Bellingham Police Department, Washington State Patrol, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney William H. Redkey, Jr.
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.