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Press Release

Leader of Whatcom County Drug Ring Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Trafficked Meth And Heroin And Used Violence To Collect Drug Debts

            A Whatcom County man who ran a drug distribution network was sentenced today to 20 years in federal prison, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  TODD HAMILTON, 36, of Bellingham ran the area’s most widespread and prolific drug trafficking organization using violence and threats of violence to impose his will.  At sentencing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said the community should be grateful HAMILTON is off the street.  “Bellingham is one of the most pleasant and beautiful communities on the West Coast… Society cannot tolerate (Hamilton’s) cavalier attitude toward the rule of law.”

            “This defendant has been a source of crime and violence in Whatcom County for far too long,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “I commend the good partnership between the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, the Bellingham Police Department, the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office and state and federal law enforcement to remove this scourge from the community and shut down his criminal organization.”

            According to the plea agreement and other records filed in the case, upon his January 2011 release from Washington State prison, HAMILTON began running a heroin and methamphetamine distribution ring operating in Whatcom County.  During a court authorized wiretap investigation, law enforcement learned HAMILTON purchased significant quantities of methamphetamine and heroin from his Olympia, Washington based supplier and had it transported to the Bellingham area for further distribution.  When HAMILTON’s home was searched in December 2011, investigators found meth and heroin, drug ledgers and packaging materials.  They also found a loaded Cobra Enterprise, Inc.45 caliber pistol.

During the investigation, DEA agents learned that HAMILTON purchased several pounds of methamphetamine and heroin each week, spending tens of thousands of dollars to redistribute the drugs in his community for profit.  The investigation also revealed that HAMILTON had recruited an employee of the Department of Corrections (DOC) to assist him with his drug trafficking.  The employee, also charged and convicted in this conspiracy, used his access to a Department of Corrections computer to determine whether law enforcement was investigating HAMILTON.  He no longer works for the DOC.

            HAMILTON pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime on April 1, 2013.

            In asking for a 21-year sentence, prosecutors noted that the full extent of HAMILTON’s violence reign may never be known.  “Defendant made tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars off the backs of drug addicts in the Bellingham community.  His brazen and prolific drug dealing was only matched by his reputation for violence.  The wiretap revealed that Defendant was willing to assault the vulnerable people who were addicted to his poisons.  Defendant armed himself with a firearm to ensure that he was invincible.  What is unknown is how many people…. suffered from Defendant’s violence without reporting it to authorities precisely because they were both afraid of Defendant and feared police attention,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved, and was investigated and prosecuted pursuant to the United States Attorney’s Northwest Washington Hot Spot Initiative.  The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Washington State Patrol, the Washington State Department of Corrections, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit (SCIDEU) and the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jill Otake and Roger Rogoff.

Updated March 23, 2015