News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

LEADER OF TACOMA HEROIN TRAFFICKING RING SENTENCED TO TEN YEARS IN PRISON
Defendant One of 26 to be Sentenced in Connection with Wire-Tap Investigation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2011

JOSE MANUEL CAMPOS PINEDA, 34, of Spanaway, Washington, was sentenced last week to ten years in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute heroin. PINEDA was indicted along with 25 other defendants as part of “Project Deliverance,” a Drug Enforcement Administration led investigation of a heroin trafficking ring that delivered large amounts of heroin and methamphetamine from the Mexican cartels to street level customers in the Tacoma area.

According to records filed in the case, the organization used various runners working with a ‘dispatcher’ to get drugs into the hands of customers. Drug customers from Lewis, Pierce, Kitsap, Thurston and Grays Harbor Counties would call and order drugs. They would be given an intersection within a six square mile area of south Tacoma where they were to park. The dispatcher would take a description of the customer’s car. At the time of the meet, the drug runner’s car would drive slowly past the customer car signaling the customer to follow, the cars would proceed into a residential neighborhood, alert to any surveillance and make the drug transaction. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, proceeds of the drug trade, was being shipped to Mexico in hidden compartments built into vehicles. In the course of the thirteen month investigation, authorities seized more than 80 pounds of heroin, $400,000 in cash, 4 firearms, and more than four pounds of methamphetamine. PINEDA and the other defendants were arrested June 9, 2010.

In sentencing PINEDA to the ten year prison term, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman found that he was the leader of the ring, and the one arranging for the drugs to come to the Pacific Northwest. PINEDA is a Mexican national who will be deported following his prison term.

In asking for the lengthy prison term, prosecutors noted that PINEDA trafficked black tar heroin – one of the drugs that has fueled cartel violence. According to the U.S. State Department, there have been 22,700 narcotics related murders in Mexico since 2006, as Mexican cartels battle to decide who will control the supply of drugs, such as black tar heroin, into the United States.

The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Grays Harbor Drug Task Force, Lakewood Police Department and Thurston County Narcotics Task Force. The following agencies provided substantial assistance: Auburn Police Department, Bonney Lake Police Department, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fife Police Department, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Puyallup Police Department, Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Tacoma Police Department, Washington State Patrol and Washington State Department of Corrections.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jeff Backhus and Matthew Thomas.

 

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