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Press Release

Mexican National Sentenced to More than 12 Years for Drug Trafficking in the Tri Cities

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington

Richland, Washington – United States District Judge Mary K. Dimke sentenced Jose Mendoza-Ruelas, 38, to 150 months in federal prison after his guilty plea to Conspiracy to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Actual (Pure) Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More of Fentanyl, and 5 Kilograms or More of Cocaine. Mendoza-Ruelas, who is from Mexico, also will serve 5 years of federal supervision after he is released from federal custody.

According to information disclosed in court documents and proceedings, Mendoza-Ruelas was part of a large drug trafficking organization that involved a legitimate landscaping business used to cover up the organization’s drug trafficking activities. During the course of the investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration recovered large quantities of methamphetamine, fentanyl, and cash. Mendoza-Ruelas further made statements that the drug trafficking organization would give him 50,000 to 60,000 fentanyl laced pills in addition to large quantities of methamphetamine. Mendoza Ruelas was negotiating a 30 pound methamphetamine delivery when he was taken into custody. Around that time, DEA, in partnership with local law enforcement, executed numerous search warrants to include at the landscaping compound. There, law enforcement recovered over $160,000 in U.S. currency secreted inside a compartment in the wall. Law enforcement also recovered several automatic rifles armed with loaded barrel drums hanging on the wall. This compound was utilized to intake and process large drug shipments for distribution.

Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, stated “Drug distribution continues to be a scourge in the Tri-Cities and elsewhere.” U.S. Attorney Waldref continued: “I commend the collaborative efforts of state, local, and federal law enforcement to identify Mr. Mendoza-Ruelas’s drug trafficking activities and to prevent him from further distributing this poison in our communities. The Tri-Cities area and Eastern Washington are safer and stronger as a result of today’s sentence.”

Mr. Mendoza-Ruelas will spend a significant amount of time in prison due to the dedication of our state, local and federal partners who continue to work to keep our communities safe, healthy and free of individuals like him,” said Jacob D. Galvan, Acting Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division.

This case was investigated by the DEA Tri-Cities, Border Patrol, the METRO Drug Task Force, Richland Police Department, Kennewick Police Department, Pasco Police Department, and West Richland Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Van Marter.


Drug Evidence

Richard Barker 
Assistant United States Attorney and Public Affairs Officer
509-835-6311 or

Updated May 4, 2023

Drug Trafficking