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Press Release

Final defendant in Skagit County drug arrest sentenced to 72 months in prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Skagit County man apprehended twice in cars with drugs and guns

Seattle – A 39-year-old Mount Vernon, Washington, resident was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 72 months in prison for possessing dangerous drugs and guns on two separate occasions, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Steven Lopez Ruiz has been in custody since his arrest on March 14, 2022.

According to records filed in the case, Ruiz was first encountered by law enforcement on March 1, 2022, in the driver’s seat of a car that contained fentanyl laced pills, methamphetamine, and two firearms. Just two weeks later, on March 14, 2022, law enforcement stopped a car in which Ruiz was riding. Ruiz attempted to run from police but was apprehended. On that occasion, he possessed over 1,000 fentanyl pills, as well as heroin.

Ruiz was prosecuted along with the car’s driver, Santos Gutierrez-Fosella and a second passenger, Robert Johnny. Gutierrez-Fosella was held responsible for some 89,000 fentanyl pills in the car and was sentenced to ten years in prison. In January 2023, Robert Johnny was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in the case.

In asking for a seven-year prison sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Miriam Hinman wrote to the court, “Ruiz has committed serious offenses that pose a danger to the public. He has received substantial sentences for prior drug-trafficking and violence, and yet he was not deterred from engaging in the instant offense. He also attempted to flee from law enforcement in this case. Ruiz’s history of drug-trafficking, unlawful firearm possession, and physical violence, and his lack of respect for the law and for law enforcement, require a significant prison sentence in order to achieve deterrence and protect the public.”

The case was investigated by the Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Swinomish Police Department, and the Mount Vernon Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Miriam Hinman.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Delaney Hewitt at (206) 553-4620 or

Updated April 7, 2023

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses