An Everett, Washington man who was part of a drug and gun smuggling ring with ties to a crime group in Mexico, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. GEORGE ELLIOTT CHAVIS, 53, acquired guns for the group, some of which were smuggled into Mexico for use by a violent drug trafficking cartel. At sentencing U.S. District Court Judge Robert S. Lasnik said, “This was a very serious and dangerous crime – putting this kind of powerful firearms in the hands of drug traffickers.”
According to records in the case, CHAVIS acquired firearms for a violent drug trafficking organization, with direct ties to a violent cartel that intended to smuggle them back to Mexico. CHAVIS used his prior military experience and training to identify weapons for the group. In one instance, CHAVIS told a cartel leader that an assault weapon could be modified to a fully automatic machine gun. During the course of the investigation of the drug trafficking organization, investigators seized 20 pounds of heroin, in excess of 30 pounds of methamphetamine, over $400,000 in cash, body armor, and 18 firearms, including at least 10 assault-style rifles. CHAVIS was introduced to the drug traffickers by his daughter, Micalia Valenzuela, who was sentenced last month to five years in prison for her role in the crime group.
In January 2013, CHAVIS pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Possess Firearms in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime/Crime of Violence. All 34 defendants have been indicted in the case. Some have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison terms ranging from one year to nine years in prison. Trial for the remaining defendants is scheduled for May 6, 2013.
In asking for a six year sentence, prosecutors wrote to the court that CHAVIS “was intimately involved in a violent drug organization’s efforts to acquire military-style assault rifles, to be smuggled back into Mexico - with predictably deadly results.”
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The case was investigated by the ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Snohomish Police Department, the Washington State Patrol, the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force and the Seattle Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Vince Lombardi, John McNeil and J. Tate London.