United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Mexican National Sentenced To 11+ Years In Prison For Heroin Distribution
Defendant is Last of 25 Sentenced in Connection with Large Heroin Distribution Ring
SERGIO OMAR VALENCIA GARCIA, 35, previously residing in Tacoma, Washington, and a citizen of Mexico, was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 135 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin and possession of heroin with intent to distribute. VALENCIA GARCIA will likely be deported following his prison term. According to records filed in the case, VALENCIA GARCIA was the leader of a ring distributing large amounts of heroin in the South Puget Sound region. Much of the drug money was laundered through two businesses, and then sent back to Mexico to pay for the illegal narcotics. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton said VALECIA GARCIA had the intelligence to lead a successful law abiding life, but he exhibited a “black heart” by allowing greed to lead him into a life of crime.
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 shipped to Mexico in hidden compartments built into vehicles. In the course of the thirteen month investigation begun in the spring of 2009, authorities seized more than 80 pounds of heroin, $400,000 in cash, 4 firearms, and more than four pounds of methamphetamine. VALENCIA GARCIA and the other defendants were arrested June 9, 2010.
In asking for a lengthy prison term, prosecutors noted the huge amount of heroin seized from VALENCIA GARCIA’s home. “The agents found approximately 55 pounds (25,659 net grams) of heroin in Valencia’s house and a large amount of cash spread throughout Valencia’s house. In one bedroom, agents discovered approximately 38 pounds of suspected heroin, a digital scale, and narcotics packaging materials. The heroin itself was in plastic bags which were sitting in open boxes in the bedroom. Inside the closet in the same bedroom was, among other things, a soft-sided cooler containing an additional approximately one pound of suspected heroin and a digital scale,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.
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.