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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 26, 2019

Drug Cartel Leader Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Distributing more than 50 Kilos of Methamphetamine

Defendant Used Threats and Violence, and Illegally Possessed a Firearm as Part of Dangerous Drug Ring

          The leader of a dangerous drug distribution ring, who continued to run his drug operation after fleeing to Mexico, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 20 years in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  As early as 2010, JESUS ENRIQUE PALOMERA, 39, conspired with others to distribute methamphetamine in the Tacoma area.  PALOMERA not only sold drugs, he sold guns as well – arranging the sale of nine guns in one day to an undercover law enforcement agent.  At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan said it was one of the largest drug conspiracies he had seen and “the threats of violence here were as bad as I have seen.”

            “This defendant was a prolific drug dealer smuggling massive amounts of methamphetamine throughout the West Coast, and very specifically in the Tacoma area,” said U.S. Attorney Moran.  “His hallmark was violence and threats of violence, not only against co-conspirators, but against their children, parents and loved ones.  This prison sentence puts an end to his drug ring powered by fear.”

          According to records filed in the case, following the gun sales in November 2011, PALOMERA fled to Mexico after some of his coconspirators were arrested.  PALOMERA continued to run his drug operation from across the border, sometimes communicating with customers in Pierce County via Facebook.  PALOMERA frequently threatened those working for him and their family members if they did not obey him.  The threats were via Facebook and instant messaging.

          PALOMERA continued to be involved in drug distribution in 2014 and 2015.  At PALOMERA’s direction more than 50 kilos of methamphetamine were transported from Mexico and up through California and Oregon to Washington.  PALOMERA’s threats of violence were made very real when one of the coconspirators went missing and is presumed dead after a load was seized by law enforcement.  Sentencing documents reveal that PALOMERA threatened to kill this coconspirator during conversations with other coconspirators, and a number of people saw text messages and photos that indicated PALOMERA directed the beating and killing of the coconspirator 

          PALOMERA was taken into custody in Mexico in June 2015, and was extradited to the United States in July 2016.  In November 2017, he pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and being an alien in possession of a firearm.

          PALOMERA’s coconspirator, James E. Roberts, was sentenced to ten years in prison in December 2015.  Roberts owned an auto body shop in Lakewood, Washington, that was central to the drug trafficking ring.  Several other conspirators have been sentenced, including:

  • Lucas Manglona, who was sentenced to ten years in prison in February 2016.
  • Tisha A. Janzen, who was sentenced to ten years in prison in July 2016.
  • Daniel R. Vasquez, who was sentenced to 70 months in prison in May 2016.

         

          The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), with assistance from the Lakewood Police Department, the Washington Department of Corrections, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Siskiyou County Drug Task Force, the California Highway Patrol, the Oregon State Police, and the FBI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Dion and Amy Jaquette.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Contact: 
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov .
Updated April 26, 2019