News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

One Defendant was Arrested Driving Up I-5 with 6 Kilos of Cocaine in a Hidden Compartment

February 4, 2011

MARISOL PEREZ-ALMONTE, 28, of Renton, Washington, and JOAN LUIS AZAMAR-SANCHEZ, 31, of Seattle, Washington, were each sentenced to 10 year prison terms today in U.S. District Court in Seattle for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. PEREZ-ALMONTE was convicted by a jury in November 2010, following the five day trial. AZAMAR-SANCHEZ pleaded guilty on October 29, 2010. Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik imposed the mandatory minimum ten-year sentence on each defendant.

According to records filed in the case, an undercover police officer set up drug deals for both methamphetamine and cocaine with AZAMAR-SANCHEZ. In the course of the investigation, a third defendant, Ruben Ramirez-Ventura was identified by law enforcement as a source of both the cocaine and methamphetamine in the Seattle area. A Seattle detective gathered information that it was Ramirez-Ventura’s common law wife, PEREZ-ALMONTE, that had the drug connection to the Sinoloa cartel. In February 2010, the couple made a trip to the Moreno Valley of Southern California, driving through the night. The next day they met at a motel with an unidentified man. Law enforcement agents had them under surveillance. They watched as the couple moved their Chevy Tahoe to a secluded part of the parking lot while Ramirez-Ventura worked on the rear passenger seat. Then the couple quickly began their drive north. Near Ashland, Oregon, the couple was pulled over for speeding. A drug detecting canine alerted to the car. After obtaining a warrant, investigators found six kilos of cocaine hidden in the rear passenger seat.

Ruben Ramirez-Ventura, will be sentenced later this year.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Seattle Police Department, with assistance from the Oregon State Police.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kate Crisham and Roger Rogoff.



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