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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Nineteen indicted in cartel-connected drug trafficking conspiracy

Organization tied to CJNG cartel smuggled and distributed meth and heroin

Seattle - Fifteen people were arrested today throughout the Puget Sound region and in California following an 18-month investigation of a drug trafficking organization tied to the CJNG cartel in Mexico, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  The defendants arrested today made their initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

“This cartel is known as a violent and prolific drug trafficking group.  I commend the DEA-led task force for taking a bite out of its drug distribution and money laundering networks,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran.  “Over the course of this investigation law enforcement seized more than 100 pounds of methamphetamine and ten pounds of heroin, and agents and officers continued their work despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 “The South Sound Streets are safer today with the removal of this violent criminal ring that pushed heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl into our communities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis.  “Without question the critical partnership between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies made today’s effort possible and ultimately benefits the public’s safety.”

“The results of this operation are a clear example of what can be achieved through HSI’s partnership with state, local and federal law enforcement agencies,” said Eben Roberts, acting special agent in charge HSI Seattle.”  I commend all of the agents, officers and analysts involved in this operation. Their dedication resulted in the removal of massive amounts of narcotics from our community, the disruption of an extremely dangerous supply chain and undoubtedly saved numerous lives.”

The indictment charges conspiracy, possession, attempted possession and distribution of methamphetamine and heroin, as well as a money laundering conspiracy.  These are the nineteen defendants named in the grand jury indictment:

Alan GOMEZ MARENTES; 35, Los Angeles, California, and Tukwila, Washington

Juan Antonio GONZALEZ CARRILLO; 31, Gardena, California

Luis MAGANA RAMIREZ; 32, Fife, Washington

Jose Elias BARBOSA CEBALLOS; 35,  Port Orchard, Washington

Jose Daniel ESPINOZA; 33,  Renton, Washington

Estefhany COREA MENDOZA; 27,  Burien, Washington

Adrian IZAZAGA MARTINEZ; 29, Kent, Washington

Jorge MONDRAGON; 24, Kent, Washington

Benjamin FUENTES; 28, Renton, Washington

Luis ZAVALZA SANCHEZ; 31, Seattle, Washington

Alysha Marie JONES; 27, Shelton, Washington

Armando FIERRO PONCE; 26, Renton, Washington

Amanda MEYER; 35, Kent, Washington

Michael WOOD; 45, Port Orchard, Washington

Luis CASTILLO BARRAGAN; 32, Kent, Washington

Efrain LUNA RODRIGUEZ; 21, Maywood, California

Julian PINEDA CASILLAS; 33, Victorville, California

Blanca MEDINA; 36, Los Angeles, California, and Tukwila, Washington

Ruth GOMEZ MARENTES; 34, Kent, Washington

In all, fifteen search warrants were served in the Puget Sound region, and four were served today in California.  Today alone, agents seized: twenty pounds of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, 200 fentanyl pills, nine firearms, and more than $250,000 in cash.  Previously, during the investigation, law enforcement seized more than 100 pounds of meth, various quantities of cocaine, heroin, 1500 fentanyl pills, and six firearms.

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 conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Tacoma Resident Office in partnership with Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement Team (TNET), Kent Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, SeaTac Police Department, Thurston County Narcotics Team (TNT), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  In addition, to the agencies listed above, these law enforcement agencies assisted in the investigation and/or with arrests and search warrants executed today:  DEA Seattle Special Response Team, Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team, Valley SWAT, Pierce County SWAT, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team, Bremerton Special Operations Group, King County SWAT, King County Sheriff’s Office Metro, Burien Police Department, Auburn Special Investigations Unit, FBI Seattle, FBI SWAT,  FBI Portland Tactical and TNET, which is comprised of Tacoma, Lakewood, Auburn, Kent, Bonney Lake and Puyallup Police Departments, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Department of Corrections.  The investigation was supported by the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Amy Jaquette and Marci Ellsworth.

Limited images from this investigation are available from DEA Public Affairs Officer Jodie Underwood at Jodie.Underwood@usdoj.gov.

gomez_marentes_et_al_indictment.pdf

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Opioids
Contact: 
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated July 28, 2020