Indictments Target North Sound Drug Trafficking Ring
Group with Mexican Cartel Ties Allegedly Distributing as much as 2 Kilos of Heroin a Week
A 6-month investigation of significant heroin and methamphetamine trafficking in the north Puget Sound region culminated in eleven federal arrests today and the serving of search warrants on thirty locations, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. The local leader of the drug trafficking ring, JOSE VERDUZCO URIAS, 40, was arrested along with seven other defendants named in the ten-person indictment. Three people were arrested and charged by federal criminal complaint. Additionally, a dozen people were arrested on state and local charges. Those arrested on federal charges will appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle at 2:00 today.
“The people we charged today were moving up to 2 kilos of heroin a week into our neighborhoods, feeding addictions whose terrible impacts we see all around us,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “They distributed in urban centers, small towns, and tribal communities, demonstrating yet again the sad fact that no place is immune from the scourge of opioid addiction.”
JOSE VERDUZCO URIAS has homes in both Snohomish, Washington and in Sedro Wooley, Washington. He had crossed the radar of law enforcement in previous investigations, and thus became the target of increased investigation in late 2017. Members of the VERDUZCO URIAS distribution group named in the indictment include:
BELINDA CRUZ, 40, Sedro Wooley, Washington
ALBERTO CRUZ REYES, 52, Phoenix, Arizona
FERNANDO SANTACRUZ, 27, Mount Vernon, Washington
RIGOBERTO PONCE SANCHEZ, 28, Sedro Wooley, Washington
JOSE URENA VERDUZCO, 32, Kirkland, Washington
JULIAN ZAMORA GARCIA, 34, Seattle
JULIO CESAR FIERRO-VEGA, 33, Mount Vernon, Washington
IVAN VALDEZ SOTO, 34, Salem, Oregon
VICTOR MARTINEZ, 23, Mount Vernon, Washington
Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement utilized information from a number of people working with law enforcement some of whom made drug buys from members of the organization.
During today’s searches law enforcement seized 18 firearms, ten pounds of heroin, twenty pounds of methamphetamine and more than $500,000 in cash.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis of the Pacific Northwest region said, “This north sound criminal enterprise has been on our radar for a very long time and the surgical removal of this group will thwart the flow of foreign sourced heroin endangering our communities.”
“The FBI worked side-by-side with the DEA and other federal, state, and local partners to execute today's arrests, which significantly impact this drug trafficking organization's ability to operate in the north Puget Sound region,” said Special Agent in Charge Jay S. Tabb Jr., of the FBI's Seattle Field Office."
The charges contained in the indictment 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 was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.
The investigation was led by DEA and FBI with significant participation from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Whatcom Gang and Drug Task Force (WGDTF), Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit (SCIDEU), Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force (SRDGTF), ATF, U.S. Border Patrol, Washington State Patrol, Everett Police, North Sound SWAT, Seattle Police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and NW High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kate Vaughan and Nicholas Manheim.