News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

Feds Dismantle Meth And Heroin Trafficking Ring Based In Whatcom County

Ring’s Leader tied to Aryan Prison Gang; Distributed Drugs in Skagit, Whatcom and San Juan Counties

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2011

            Over the last three days, federal, state and local law enforcement dismantled a violent drug distribution ring operating in the North Puget Sound region, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  Six people have been arrested federally, including the drug ring leader TODD HAMILTON, 34, and his girlfriend DENALI WOOD, 23, both of Bellingham, Washington.  The couple distributed extensive amounts of heroin and methamphetamine in Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan Counties.   Both appeared in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Tuesday and remain in custody pending detention hearings next week.

            “This drug trafficking organization damaged many lives with the heroin and methamphetamine they spread in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “This conspiracy thrived on threats and violence, and used a corrupted former corrections officer to try to avoid arrest.  I commend the federal agents and local law enforcement officers for their good work.”

            According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, members of the conspiracy re-distributed drugs that they obtained from Seattle area conspirator, ELIDIO JESUS GUILLEN.  GUILLEN appeared in U.S. District Court yesterday.  Other conspirators are still being sought by law enforcement.  During a court authorized wiretap investigation, the conspirators discussed their drug deals, how to launder drug money, and the beating one drug customer received when he failed to pay a debt.  Information obtained during the course of the investigation revealed how HAMILTON used a Washington State Department of Corrections officer to try to get information regarding law enforcement knowledge of him and his girlfriend.  That corrections officer resigned his position earlier this year and has now been charged in the drug conspiracy. 

            The defendants are charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances – methamphetamine and heroin.  Given the drug quantities involved, the charge is punishable by a mandatory minimum ten years in prison up to life in prison.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

            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 is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force.  Key assistance is being provided by the U.S. Marshals Service.

            The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Roger Rogoff and Jill Otake.

 

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