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Press Release

HSI, DEA, and local partners, seize more than 16 kilograms of fentanyl powder and 60,000 fentanyl pills in fast-moving investigation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Surveillance of trafficking group stretched from Renton to Bellingham

Seattle – A fast moving investigation resulted in the seizure of a large amount of fentanyl and four federal arrests, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. The investigation began in late March with undercover agents setting up initial drug deals. The case culminated with arrests and seizures on May 9, 2024. The four defendants appeared today in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

“This quick work by federal and local law enforcement will save lives with 16 kilos of fentanyl powder and tens of thousands of pills taken off the street,” said U.S. Attorney Gorman. “With deadly fentanyl overdoses occurring at a rate of two a day in King County alone, we are focused at getting as much fentanyl as we can off the streets and out of circulation.”

“Fentanyl traffickers threaten the lives of our community for profit, and this amount of fentanyl represented over 1.6 million potentially lethal doses,” said David F. Reames, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division. “The Drug Enforcement Administration and our partners work tirelessly to stop those who would bring this tragedy to our communities and this case is another example of the power of teamwork to make us all safer.”

According to the criminal complaint, undercover agents working with Homeland Security Investigations posed as well-funded drug customers. They set up a deal to purchase kilos of fentanyl powder and pills. Elvin Irias-Escoto, 22, of Honduras, who lived in Renton, agreed to supply the drugs. DEA Tacoma agents surveilled Irias-Escoto and his coconspirators as they packed boxes, a backpack, and a cooler into a car at a Renton apartment complex. The four conspirators drove to the Bellingham area where they had set the drug sale for a shopping center parking lot. The defendants showed law enforcement two boxes which contained 15 packages of just over 15 kilograms of fentanyl powder.

fentanyl powder in bricks and firearm

Ultimately all four men were arrested. In addition to Irias-Escoto, these three defendants are charged in the case:

Selvin Ponce-Maradiaga, 26, of Honduras, living in Renton, WA

Sammy Maradiaga-Escoto, 20, of Honduras, living in Federal Way, WA

Hector Rosales-Martinez, 24 of Honduras, Washington residence unknown

In addition to the fentanyl powder, law enforcement seized a firearm that was in the car. A search of the Renton apartment by agents resulted in the seizure of an additional 60,000 fentanyl pills, another kilogram of fentanyl powder and multiple boxes of ammunition.

“Today's successful operation, resulting in four arrests and the seizure of a significant quantity of fentanyl, underscores the importance of collaborative efforts between HSI and our law enforcement partners,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “This joint investigation exemplifies the dedication and coordination necessary to combat the scourge of illicit drugs in our communities. We remain committed to working together to disrupt criminal networks and protect the safety and well-being of our citizens."

Pink fentanyl pills

"I cannot overstate the gravity of this fentanyl seizure and the pivotal role of our collaborative partnerships, said Tobin Meyer, Commander of the Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit (SCIDEU). “This operation epitomizes the effectiveness of pooling resources and expertise across agencies. Through unified efforts, we send a clear message to drug traffickers: we will relentlessly pursue you, disrupt your operations, and safeguard our communities from the devastating impact of illicit substances."

The charges contained in the criminal complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was the result of coordinated work between HSI, DEA, FBI, Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations, Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, and U.S Border Patrol.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Yunah Chung and Jehiel Baer.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated May 10, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses