News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

Leader Of Multi-Million Dollar Drug Distribution Ring Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For  Conspiracy, Money Laundering

Ring Transported and Distributed Cocaine, BC Bud, Meth, Ecstasy and Cash

May 4, 2012

The leader of a ring that distributed a variety of illegal drugs from Mexico to Canada and east across the United States was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 15 years in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiracy and money laundering charges, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  DREW YIM, 38, of Burien, Washington, is forfeiting to the government millions of dollars in cash and real estate that constituted some of the proceeds of his drug distribution operation.  Some of the money was seized from YIM or his associates between December 2009, and May 2011, while the Drug Enforcement Administration led an investigation into the drug trafficking organization.  At sentencing Chief U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman noted that YIM had “swept many people into this conspiracy… your mother… your sister…”  Chief Judge Pechman noted that she was giving YIM “about as much time in prison that he spent building his drug empire.”

“This defendant is paying with his freedom for the many lives he damaged in his quest for cash,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “Drew Yim spread cocaine, ecstasy, meth and BC Bud across the U.S. and Canada to line his own pockets.  I commend the good work by law enforcement, here and in Canada, that will prevent Yim from further damaging our communities.”

“Today, the final words were spoken – 15 years in prison,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes.  “For at least the last 11 years, Drew Yim used his savvy business skills to build his empire with complete disregard for the many lives he ruined along the way.  His wealth and personal fortune are now a distant memory.” 

According to the facts YIM admits in his plea agreement, he lead a criminal enterprise with dozens of conspirators.  Using as many as 18 cell phones at one time, he directed the shipment of cocaine and methamphetamine from California into Washington and across the border into Canada.  YIM also directed the importation and distribution of MDMA (ecstasy) and BC Bud from Canada into Western Washington and then to other destinations across the U.S.  For example in June of 2010, YIM arranged for a 19 kilo load of cocaine to be transported to Canada.  In March and May 2011, YIM arranged two more cocaine loads totaling 36 kilos to be transported into Canada.  Canadian authorities seized some of the cocaine.  Over five months in 2010, YIM arranged for more than 700 pounds of marijuana to be transported into the U.S. in six different loads.

When YIM’s home was searched in May 2011, agents recovered more than 7 kilos of MDMA – just a small portion of the MDMA he trafficked over the course of the investigation.  YIM admits transporting another 7 kilos of ecstasy as part of the conspiracy as well as drug proceeds from ecstasy of more than $300,000.

In asking for an 18 year sentence prosecutors wrote to the court that YIM “was an extraordinarily successful drug dealer whose behavior endangered the lives of his family, his children, and countless strangers he never met.  His distribution of these drugs, which eventually found their way into the hands of addicts, kids, and other vulnerable people, ripped at the pillars of this community while making him obscenely rich.”

YIM is forfeiting $1.4 million in cash that was seized during the course of the investigation.  YIM is forfeiting six vehicles, a boat, 14 pieces of real property – including ten properties in the Spokane area, as well as property in Burien, Bothell, Enumclaw, and Renton, and four Rolex watches.  All of the items seized were purchased with proceeds of the drug conspiracy.

YIM and 13 others were arrested May 24, 2011.  Four additional defendants are fugitives – two are pending extradition from Canada.  YIM’s wife, Svetlana Angel Yim, was convicted last month of drug distribution and money laundering charges following a four week trial.

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 lead by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Seattle Police Department with assistance from Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HIS).

            The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Roger Rogoff, Jerrod Patterson, and Richard Cohen.

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