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Press Release

Skagit County man sentenced to ten years in prison for drug and gun crimes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant also to plead guilty to state court charges related to armed robbery in Burlington, Washington

Seattle – A 24-year-old resident of Mount Vernon, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to ten years in prison for drug trafficking while armed with multiple firearms, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Santos Gutierrez-Fosella was arrested on March 14, 2022, with more than 89,000 fentanyl pills, two kilos of methamphetamine and five firearms – one of them a ghost gun. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Lauren King said, “The seriousness of your crimes has been escalating and all are tied to drugs…. You amplified the danger to the public, law enforcement and yourself by trying to protect your drugs with guns.”

“Mr. Gutierrez-Fosella took more than $130,000 to Arizona to load up on potentially deadly fentanyl pills – that conduct alone indicates he was a prolific drug distributor,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “When the Skagit County authorities tried to arrest him, he rammed a patrol car in a futile attempt to escape. In his pocket was a loaded 9mm ghost gun. His conduct posed a danger to the community on many levels.”

According to records filed in the case, Gutierrez-Fosella was indicted with two others on March 30, 2022. Robert Johnny was purchasing pills from Gutierrez-Fosella. He was sentenced in January 2023, to six years in prison. A third co-defendant, Steven Lopez Ruiz is scheduled for sentencing on April 5, 2023.

When law enforcement searched Gutierrez-Fosella’s car after the traffic stop, they found not only the fentanyl and methamphetamine, but S10,000 in cash and four firearms: a .40 caliber Hi Point handgun, a Beretta APX handgun, a Palmetto PA15 rifle, and a CZ Scorpion rifle. Gutierrez-Fosella had the loaded ghost gun and another $7,000 in cash in his pockets.

As part of the agreement to resolve the federal case, the Skagit County Prosecutor agreed to resolve its pending charges against Gutierrez-Fosella, including charges related to an armed robbery, by accepting pleas to the following charges pending in Skagit County: Conspiracy to Commit Robbery in the First Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the First Degree, and Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree.

The case was investigated by the Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Swinomish Police Department, and the Mount Vernon Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Miriam Hinman.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated March 29, 2023

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses