Leaders of Multi-State Drug Distribution Ring Sentenced to Long Prison Terms
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 sentenced late Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to long prison terms, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. The leader of the drug distribution ring BALTAZAR REYES-GARCIA 45, of Camano Island, Washington, was sentenced to eighteen years in prison; HECTOR CONTRERAS-IBARRA, 33, of Pasco, WA, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison; and ANGEL SERRANO-CARRENO, 30, of Mt. Vernon, WA was sentenced to thirteen years in prison. The drug ring distributed heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine in King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom Counties. At the sentencing hearing for BALTAZAR REYES-GARCIA, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said the quantities of drugs involved is “immensely alarming” and noted that REYES-GARCIA was a “major drug supplier.”
“The kilograms of heroin, meth and cocaine that these defendants sold ultimately became hundreds and thousands of doses of poison in addicts’ hands,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “Make no mistake – these drugs kill or otherwise destroy lives. I commend our federal, state and local law enforcement partners for working together to arrest and convict these defendants who earned their living off the misery of Western Washington residents.”
All three defendants were convicted in October 2017, following a ten-day jury trial. The conspirators operated stash houses on Camano Island and in Mount Vernon, as well as in Yakima and Franklin Counties. The organization had broad connections spanning from Mexico to Nevada, Arizona and California, and north to British Columbia. Fourteen other co-conspirators charged in the case pleaded guilty in the months following their arrests in November 2016. These other defendants in the case have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to twelve years in prison.
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.
If you, or someone you know, would like information about resources for those suffering from a heroin or other substance abuse addiction, you can call the 24 hour Washington Recovery Helpline at 866-789-1511, or go to the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Institute website (link is external). If you are between 13 and 20 years old you can also call Teen Link at 1866TEENLINK (866-833-6546) to talk to a teen volunteer.