Leaders of Multi-State Drug Distribution Ring Convicted Following Ten-Day Jury Trial
Conspirators Involved in Distribution of Heroin, Meth and Cocaine in Washington, Nevada and California
Three key players in a drug distribution ring that operated over a large swath of Washington State were found guilty this week following a ten day jury trial, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. Fourteen other co-conspirators charged in the case pleaded guilty in the months following their arrests in November 2016. The drug ring distributed heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine in King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom Counties. The conspirators operated stash houses on Camano Island and in Mount Vernon, as well as in Yakima and Franklin Counties. They had drug connections in Nevada and California. The jury deliberated about five hours before returning a guilty verdict. U.S. District Judge James L. Robart scheduled sentencing for January 16, 2018.
The defendants convicted at trial of participating in the drug conspiracy are BALTAZAR REYES-GARCIA 45, of Camano Island, WA, HECTOR CONTRERAS-IBARRA, 33 of Pasco, WA, and ANGEL SERRANO-CARRENO, 30, of Mt. Vernon, WA. All three men were convicted of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and various specific counts of drug distribution. SERRANO-CARRENO was also convicted of possession of heroin with intent to distribute and illegal possession of ammunition. Due to the amount of drugs involved in the conspiracy, the defendants face mandatory minimum ten year sentences.
As court records and evidence admitted at trial demonstrate, law enforcement investigated the drug ring in late 2015, and early 2016, utilizing pole cameras, confidential sources, wiretaps and undercover officers to document the drug distribution activity, and identify the leaders of the ring. In November 2016, law enforcement served search warrants on more than two dozen locations seizing two kilos of cocaine, more than $180,000 cash, and more than 20 firearms – including a loaded AK47. Those totals were in addition to the seizures made during the investigation: eight kilos of methamphetamine, two kilos of cocaine, nearly a kilo of heroin, and more than $117,000 in cash.
The investigation was named “Operation Car Wash” as some of the conspirators would meet up to conduct their deals at a Mount Vernon car wash.
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: the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in conjunction with the FBI, Whatcom Gang & Drug Task Force and Skagit County Inter-Agency Drug Task Force. The investigation was supported by: the Auburn Police Department, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, Snohomish County Regional Drug & Gang Task Force, Mt. Vernon Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Skagit County Sheriff’s Office, Everett Police Department and Seattle Police Department. Additional assistance was provided by HSI; CBP, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kate Vaughan and Steven Masada.