LEAD DEFENDANT SENTENCED IN DRUG TRAFFICKING RING TIED TO NOTORIOUS “LA FAMILIA” CARTEL
Defendant Managed Distribution of Cocaine and Meth Across Western States
ARTURO J. BARAJAS GARCIA, 32, of Renton, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 13 years in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. BARAJAS GARCIA was one of sixteen people arrested in Western Washington in October 2009, following a nationwide crackdown dubbed “Project Coronado.” The investigation, begun in December 2008, linked the distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine to the La Familia cartel based in Michoacan, Mexico. BARAJAS GARCIA was the leader of the local conspiracy, negotiating for the delivery of controlled substances with sources of supply in locations throughout the United States and Mexico. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said BARAJAS GARCIA “was the head of a very, very large scale conspiracy that was responsible for bringing a substantial amount of drugs into our community.”
In the course of the investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) led task force searched 19 residences and 22 vehicles in Washington and California, and seized 27 pounds of methamphetamine, 10 kilos of cocaine, seven guns, and an estimated $150,000 in cash. Wiretap recordings in the case reveal that BARAJAS GARCIA directed others to transport methamphetamine from California to Washington, re-distribute it in Washington communities, and to deliver U.S. currency to pay for the narcotics.
In her memo to the court, the Assistant United States Attorney noted that BARAJAS GARCIA “recruited dozens of other individuals - primarily young Mexican men with few other options - into this scheme, exploiting their various individual weaknesses to increase his profit.... The quantity of drugs and money involved in this scheme is staggering, and the societal harm impossible to quantify.”
Under the terms of his 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.
A number of defendants in the drug ring have already been sentenced: Demetrio Saldana Robles, 27, and Juan Carlos Saldana Robles, 24, both of Monroe, Washington, were each sentenced to six years in prison. Trent Thomas Jesmer, 32, of Monroe, Washington, was sentenced to 70 months prison. Emmanuel Valdovinos Cruzaley, 27, of Renton, Washington, was sentenced to 48 months in prison. Jorge Ochoa Avila, 40, of Monroe, Washington, and Uriel Baldovinos Cruzaley, 30, of Renton, Washington, were each sentenced to 37 months in prison.
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. Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Adam Cornell assisted in the prosecution.
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.