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The Blotter

The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

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October 3, 2011 10:55 AM

Pharmacy Board permanently bans 'bath salts,' synthetic pot

Posted by John de Leon

The state Board of Pharmacy has filed a rule permanently banning so-called "bath salts" that are used as drugs to mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, or methamphetamine, The Associated Press is reporting. Also banned are the chemicals in synthetic marijuana, also known as known as "Spice" and "K-2."

The rule going into effect by Nov. 3 gives law enforcement clear authority to prosecute the manufacture, sale and possession of these chemicals.

The Board of Pharmacy issued an emergency 120-day ban on the drugs in bath salts in April, 10 days after the an Army medic stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord shot and killed his wife before turning the gun on himself while he was under the influence of bath salts.

The Thurston County Coroner's Office said toxicology tests done on Sgt. David Stewart, 38, and Kristy Sampels, 38, revealed they both had the bath-salt chemical, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) in their bodies when they died. While the results help explain the behavior of Stewart, it did not shed light on what happened to the couple's 5-year-old son, who was found suffocated in the couple's Spanaway home.

Bath salts have a chemical composition that's similar to methamphetamine, according to the Washington Poison Center. Bath salts are not to be confused with Epsom salts or soaking salts that are sold in the bath aisles of pharmacies or beauty-supply shops.

In June, Travis C. Lipski of Seattle man was sentenced to 12 months in work release after he struck three pedestrians near Pike Place Market after smoking synthetic marijuana.

In November, the Drug Enforcement Administration started pushing to make K2, Spice, Red X Dawn and other smokable "fake pot" blends, which can be found in head shops and online, illegal. Several states have banned the blends.

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September 7, 2011 7:33 PM

Seattle firefighter at desk job during drug probe

Posted by Jeff Hodson

From Steve Miletich and Jeff Hodson:

A Seattle firefighter caught having sex and possessing drugs near a University of Washington fountain has been placed on administrative duty, authorities said.

UW police arrested the firefighter Aug. 5 as they responded to a report of a sexual assault near Drumheller Fountain on the west side of campus, said UW Police Cmdr. Steve Rittereiser.

Officers determined the sex was consensual but found what they believe was methamphetamine in the firefighter's car and cocaine in his shirt pocket, Rittereiser said.

The firefighter, who was not named, was placed on administrative leave once the Seattle Fire Department learned of the arrest, but was later put on desk duty with no contact with the public, spokesman Kyle Moore said.

"After initiating an internal investigation, the firefighter was assigned to administrative duties pending the results of the criminal investigation," the department said in a statement.

Moore said he was not aware of any charges filed against the firefighter. The 33-year-old firefighter has been with the department since January 2006.

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August 29, 2011 9:40 PM

Former Tacoma resident convicted in Nicaragua

Posted by Jeff Hodson

A former area resident was convicted by a Nicaraguan court Monday of money laundering and drug trafficking -- charges his family strongly denies.

Jason Puracal, who was raised in Tacoma and attended the University of Washington, was one of 11 defendants on trial, and has been incarcerated since November.

"We have just confirmed that the judge convicted all 11 defendants, including Jason. The family is deeply hurt by this news and will be making a statement to the press tomorrow [Tuesday]," said a message from Lobeline Communications, a public relations firm in California.

The press conference will take place at 11 a.m. at the Tolin Law firm in Kirkland. Puracal will be sentenced Sept. 6, and his defense will have six days to file an appeal, the firm said.

Puracal moved to Nicaragua nine years ago and worked in real estate, according to news clips. He is married and has a 6-year-old son.

A Facebook page has been set up as well as a Free Jason P webpage, which says Puracal has two younger sisters in Seattle and is a 1995 graduate of Henry Foss High School.

For more background, see this KING-5 story.

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March 25, 2011 3:29 PM

Man gets prison for attempted pot robbery near Kirkland

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan

An 18-year-old man who was among five people involved in an attempted robbery at the Eastside home of medical-marijuana advocate Steve Sarich last year was sentenced Friday to just under eight years in prison.

Dakota Laughren earlier had pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and attempted first-degree robbery. His four co-defendants, Hristo Tzenkov, Jonathan Buell, Tyson Corcoran and Andrew Carrigan pleaded guilty previously and have been sentenced.

At the time of the crime, Sarich was growing medical marijuana and running the advocacy group CannaCare out of his Kirkland-area house in the 11400 block of Juanita Drive Northeast.

When he was awakened by his dogs about 3:30 a.m., Sarich grabbed a .22-caliber pistol from near his bed and went to search the house.

Gunfire was exchanged, and one of the robbers, Tzenkov, was injured.

Three of the five men charged in the botched robbery had either worked for Sarich or had a prescription to obtain marijuana from him, prosecutors said.

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March 9, 2011 10:35 AM

Former King County deputy arrested on drug charges

Posted by John de Leon

A former King County sheriff's deputy was arrested in Arkansas on drug charges, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Kristopher Kizer, 30, was employed by the Sheriff's Office from 2005 until he resigned in February. His last assignment was as a narcotics K-9 handler. K-9 officers often use seized narcotics as a training aid, and upon his resignation, it was determined that cocaine and methamphetamine used to train dogs were missing and had not been returned, the Sheriff's Office said.

The Sheriff's Office launched an investigation, which led to Wednesday's arrest of Kizer in Lincoln County, Ark.

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February 23, 2011 3:48 PM

Ex-Rainier Beach HS employee sentenced on drug charges

Posted by John de Leon

A former alcohol-and-drug-intervention specialist at Rainier Beach High School was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to two years in prison for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, four counts of distribution of oxycodone and one count of possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute.

Robert Henry Smith, 60, was convicted in September following a 2 1/2-day week trial. None of the drug sales occurred on Seattle Public Schools property and none of the drug sales involved students at the school, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

According to a federal indictment, Smith was buying oxycodone from another man. Smith then sold the oxycodone to others, the indictment alleges. To build the case, police used a confidential informant to make four drug buys beginning in November 2009.

On one occasion, Smith allegedly left Rainier High School during school hours to meet the informant two blocks away to make a drug deal.

When Johnson was arrested in December 2009, police interviewed people waiting outside his home to buy drugs. Some said they'd bought narcotics from Smith as many as 20 times, according to court documents.

At the time of his arrest, Smith had been a district employee since 1992 and a drug-intervention specialist at Rainier Beach for 12 years.


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February 4, 2011 2:51 PM

Couple with ties to Mexican drug cartel sentenced in Seattle

Posted by John de Leon

A man and woman with ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel were each sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 10 years in prison.

Marisol Perez-Almonte, 28, of Renton, and Joan Luis Azamar-Sanchez, 31, of Seattle, were each convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

The two were arrested in February 2009 by the Oregon State Police after a traffic stop in Ashland, Ore. Police seized of more than 13 pounds of cocaine valued at about $150,000 in their SUV.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, an undercover police officer set up drug deals for both methamphetamine and cocaine with Azamar-Sanchez. In the course of the investigation, a third defendant, Ruben Ramirez-Ventura was identified by law enforcement as a source of both the cocaine and methamphetamine in the Seattle area. The couple was under surveillance when they were pulled over.

A Seattle detective learned that Ramirez-Ventura's common-law wife, Perez-Almonte, had a drug connection to the Sinaloa cartel.

Ruben Ramirez-Ventura, will be sentenced later this year, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

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January 24, 2011 9:32 AM

UPDATE: House fire reveals marijuana-grow operation in White Center

Posted by John de Leon

UPDATE AT 11:19 A.M.: Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart says preliminarily the fire appears to have started due to the wiring for the grow operation.

ORIGINAL POST: The King County Sheriff's Office is looking for the people behind a marijuana-grow operation at a home that caught fire early Sunday morning. The fire was reported about 1 a.m. at a single-family home in the 10400 block of 10th Ave Southwest.

Firefighters called the Sheriff's Office after they found the marijuana-grow operation in the basement. The Sheriff's Office says deputies found about 55 medium-sized plants, as well as grow lights, timers, ventilation equipment and other growing supplies in the house.

No one was home at the time of the fire and there were no arrests.

A fire investigator believes an electrical malfunction caused the fire.

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December 10, 2010 5:28 PM

Monroe meth dealer sentenced to 20 years in prison

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Mike Carter:

A 38-year-old Monroe man was given a 20-year federal prison sentence Friday after he was convicted of conspiracy, methamphetamine distribution, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of an explosive device.

Michael Anthony Johnson was one target of a lengthy investigation into meth distribution linked to the "La Familia" cartel in Mexico. As part of the probe, investigators searched Johnson's home and found drugs, weapons, ammunition, military-issue explosives and a handmade grenade. Telephone recordings by federal agents revealed him as a distributor for the cartel, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In all, 22 people have been charged in the case.

Over the course of the investigation, agents have seized 27 pounds of methamphetamine, 10 kilos of cocaine and seven firearms -- including a Bushmaster assault-style rifle and a Tec-9 semi-automatic handgun from Johnson's home. Agents have also seized roughly $150,000 in cash.

Court records show Johnson has 10 prior criminal convictions, including convictions for assault, illegal possession of a firearm, attempted delivery of methamphetamine and attempting to elude police, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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November 10, 2010 6:28 PM

Task force seizes $1M of pot in Renton grow operation

Posted by Cathy McLain

<

EASTSIDE NARCOTICS TASK FORCE

Marijuana grow operation at Renton rental house.

From Times staff reporter Jill Kimball

Eastside Narcotics Task Force detectives found themselves surrounded by pounds and pounds of marijuana on Nov. 4.

The two-story rental house in Renton they'd entered housed 605 mature marijuana plants and 71 pounds of dry marijuana, the retail value of which is estimated at more than $1 million, according to an ENTF news release.

Detectives noticed water damage and holes in the floor, walls and ceiling of the house, all the result of the grow operation tenants of the home were running.

No suspects are currently in custody, according to ENTF, and the investigation is ongoing.

The house was in the 5200 block of Northeast Fourth Place in Renton, within a mile of Hazen High School and Maplewood Heights Elementary.

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October 19, 2010 7:46 PM

Federal Way girl, 12, dies of overdose

Posted by Cathy McLain

From Times staff reporter Carly Flandro

A 12-year-old Federal Way girl died Monday of an apparent overdose at her aunt's home in Tacoma.

Tacoma police are waiting to hear from the medical examiner about the manner of her death, according to spokesman Mark Fulghum. Police are also awaiting toxicology reports -- which could take weeks -- to identify the substance she ingested.

The girl was staying at her aunt's house because her home in Federal Way was being worked on, Fulghum said. Her aunt found her and called police.

"There were no obvious signs of trauma," Fulghum said. "We just have to try to figure out the circumstances."

Police responded to the home in the 4800 block of Nassau Avenue Northeast around midday Monday.

The investigation is ongoing.

In August, another young girl died from an overdose. Lillian Star Taylor of Port Angeles was found dead while camping with her mother and a few friends near Beaver on the Olympic Peninsula. Clallam County officials determined she'd overdosed on methadone.

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September 22, 2010 4:54 PM

Former Rainier HS drug counselor convicted of dealing drugs

Posted by John de Leon

A former drug-and-alcohol-intervention specialist at Seattle's Rainier Beach High School was convicted Wednesday of one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, four counts of distribution of oxycodone and one count of possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute, according to the U.S Attorney's Office.

Jurors in U.S. District Court in Seattle deliberated for about an hour following a 2 1/2-day trial before returning the verdict against Robert Henry Smith, of Seattle.

Smith, 59, who was a drug-intervention specialist at Rainier Beach for 12 years, had pleaded not guilty to a five-count indictment alleging he and another man -- a convicted federal drug felon -- were selling the powerful narcotic.

The federal indictment against Smith alleged he bought oxycodone from Adrian Demetrius Johnson, who served three years in prison following a 1992 conviction for distributing cocaine. Smith then sold the oxycodone to others, the indictment alleged.

To build the case, police used a confidential informant to make four drug buys in November and December. None of the drug sales occurred on Seattle Public Schools property and none of the drug sales involved students at the school, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

On one occasion, Smith allegedly left Rainier High School during school hours to meet the informant two blocks away to make a drug deal, according to the indictment.

Smith faces up to 20 years in prison for each count when he is sentenced on Jan. 6.

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September 21, 2010 3:34 PM

Seattle schools employee accused of selling crack cocaine

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan

A paralegal for Seattle Public Schools is expected to be charged this week for allegedly selling crack cocaine to an informant working for Seattle police.

The paralegal was identified in a Seattle police report at Ronnie Bryant, 45. Police say that Bryant sold drugs to the police informant three times. While police did not say when the transactions occurred, the police report did say that the informant met with Bryant at Bryant's apartment in the 300 block of 28th Avenue South, in Seattle.

Police searched Bryant's home on Sept. 15 and found crack cocaine, according to a police report which was released by the King County Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday. Bryant was booked into the King County Jail shortly before 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 15 and was released the following day.

The police report did not say whether Bryant is believed to have been selling drugs to students. Authorities say that Bryant went by the street name "teach."

A filing decision in the case is expected in King County Superior Court later this week, said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

Bryant has worked as a paralegal for Seattle Public Schools since October 2000, said Teresa Wippel, a district spokeswoman. Wippel said that Bryant is on administrative leave while police investigate the case.

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September 16, 2010 11:26 AM

SPD: East Union Street drug sweep nets 17 arrests

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Christine Clarridge:

Two convicted murderers, two convicted rapists, three convicted robbers, seven people on active probation and one person who sold drugs with his young daughter in tow have been taken off the streets by the Seattle Police Department during a five-month drug sweep, according to police.

Seattle police said 17 people have arrested during a drug enforcement operation along several blocks of East Union Street that began in April. Seven of those suspects have been charged, police said.

Residents and businesses had reported increased drug and other illegal activity along East Union Street between 20th and 25th avenues, which was confirmed by the observations of detectives and patrol officers, police said.

One of the goals of the investigation, which was coined "Operation Safe Union," was to help improve the long-term quality of life for residents by focusing enforcement action against chronic street-level drug dealers and other dangerous offenders, police said in a news release.


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June 1, 2010 10:55 AM

DEA agents arrest four men in Snohomish County meth sting

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Mike Carter:

Drug Enforcement Administration agents have arrested four men and seized more than 25 pounds of methamphetamine following a five-months investigation into drug trafficking in Snohomish County.

The men are identified in a federal criminal complaint as Sebastian Dominguez-Esqueda, Jose Hernandez-Plascencia, Juan Manuel Urzua-Enciso and Carlos Hugo Zepeda-Aguirre, who is thought to be a connection to drug cartels in Mexico, according to the charges. They are expected to appear Tuesday before a U.S. magistrate judge in Seattle, according to the U.S. District Court clerk's office.

The men are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, as well as distribution and possession of the drug. Agents seized drugs from a Snohomish County home and arrested the men Friday following a controlled purchase of 25 pounds of the drug in an Everett McDonald's parking lot, according to the charges.

Three handguns, including one reported stolen in Everett, were recovered when agents raided several homes on Friday, the charges allege.

The investigation involved a paid police source setting up four smaller purchases with the group before seeking a larger purchase, according to the charges.

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May 24, 2010 4:47 PM

Canada's "Prince of Pot" pleads guilty in Seattle

Posted by Cathy McLain


from The Associated Press

Canada's so-called Prince of Pot pleaded guilty to a drug charge on Monday exchange for a five-year prison term.

Marc Emery appeared in U.S. District Court in Seattle after being extradited from Vancouver, B.C., last week. He sold millions of marijuana seeds to U.S. customers before his arrest in 2005.

He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana in exchange for an agreed sentence of five years in prison. He is to be sentenced in August, and prosecutors or Emeray may withdraw from the plea deal if the judge hands down a different sentence.



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May 20, 2010 12:06 PM

UPDATE: 'Prince of Pot' to plead guilty to federal charge

Posted by John de Leon

Marc Emery, the man known as the "Prince of Pot," has been extradited from Canada and made his first appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle Thursday afternoon. His attorney, Richard Troberman, said Emery planned to plead guilty to one of several counts U.S. prosecutors have filed against him, ending a years-long battle over Emery's marijuana-seed business.

Emery, 52, of Vancouver, B.C., has been indicted in the U.S. on charges of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Emery has sold marijuana seeds through the Internet since 1994. According to his website, at the time of his arrest in 2005 Emery, founder of the B.C. Marijuana Party, was making more than $3 million annually.

Troberman said Emery has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana in exchange for for a five-year sentence. He said Emery would plead guilty Monday in U.S District Court in Seattle.

During Thursday's hearing several people stood outside the federal courthouse and protested Emery's prosecution and the U.S. war on drugs.

Last summer, two of Emery's employees avoided prison by agreeing to a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

In October 2005, former Times staff reporter Peter Lewis interviewed Emery and wrote this story about his legal troubles.

For more on Emery and efforts to block his extradition, click on the cannabisculture.com website here.

UPDATE: Supporters of Emery plan to hold a rally Saturday outside the federal courthouse. For more information, click here.

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May 14, 2010 5:38 AM

MyEdmondsNews: First date from hell ends in arrest

Posted by John de Leon

Here's an odd one from the police blotter of our news partners at MyEdmondsNews.com:

A man and woman who had met on a dating website were spending a little time together May 2 at an Edmonds beach.

The man offered the woman marijuana, which she accepted. The woman started feeling "funny" and went to a portable toilet, where she called 911. Police arrived and arrested her date for investigation of possession of drug paraphernalia and marijuana and later released.

What are the odds of a second date?

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May 10, 2010 6:24 PM

B.C.'s "Prince of Pot" to be extradited to the U.S.

Posted by Cathy McLain

from Jeremy Hainsworth of The Associated Press

The lawyer for Canada's so-called Prince of Pot said Monday that his client has been ordered extradited to the United States.

Marc Emery has sold millions of marijuana seeds around the world by mail over the past decade, drawing the attention of U.S. drug officials, who want him extradited to Seattle.

Emery's lawyer, Kirk Tousaw, said Canada's Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson signed off on his extradition shortly after the marijuana advocate turned himself in on Monday to authorities.

The justice minister's spokeswoman, Carole Saindon, would not comment on the order or the timing of his surrender, saying only that Emery has the option of a court appeal of the order.

The department said Emery's extradition was sought on charges of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

Emery reached a plea deal with U.S. prosecutors last year, agreeing to plead guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana in return for a sentence of five years in prison.

The charges are in connection with his Vancouver, British Columbia-based seed-selling business.

Emery's wife, Jodie Emery, said she was appalled that the Canadian justice minister would order the extradition.

"It's the worst option. We didn't even entertain it as an option," she said. "I'm just stunned."

She accused Nicholson of wanting "to silence the most vocal opponent of the drug war."

Marc Emery has long maintained that the prosecution was politically motivated in the U.S. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has repeatedly denied that.

Emery has been out on bail since Nov. 17, when he was released from custody as the minister made the final decision in his case.

Keith Stroup, founder of the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws, said Emery has been open about his activities in Canada for years.

"The Canadian authorities have not seen fit to treat him as a criminal," Stroup said. "Why in the world they would want to send him to the United States, I don't understand."

Stroup said putting Emery in jail will galvanize the marijuana movement and turn him into "more of a hero and an icon."

Jodie Emery said supporters will begin lobbying to have Emery serve his time in a Canadian prison as others have been allowed to do.

It is not clear when Emery will be sent to the U.S. Tousaw said he expects it will happen within the week.


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April 18, 2010 8:35 AM

Kitsap Sun: Jury helps solve crime during deliberations

Posted by John de Leon

Larry Lloyd of Bremerton is heading to prison for nearly four years after he was convicted by Kitsap County jurors who did more than just decide his fate.

They helped solve the crime, according to the Kitsap Sun.

The jury was deliberating Lloyd's case following his May 2009 arrest on drug and assault charges after a crack pipe was found in a discarded coat that police said belonged to him. Lloyd's defense was partially based on his claim that the coat did not belong to him, the Sun reports.

Evidence presented during his trial appeared to back up Lloyd's assertion.

But during deliberations the jury asked to examine the coat, which had been submitted into evidence by the defense. Jurors found a pocket, hidden between layers of the lining, that had been missed by investigators.

Inside the hidden pocket they found a letter to Lloyd. The court ruled the new evidence was admissible and the jury ultimately convicted Lloyd, who was sentenced Friday to 47 months in prison, according to the Sun.

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April 16, 2010 3:46 PM

More than 30 arrests in Granite Falls drug sweep

Posted by John de Leon

Granite Falls police were carrying out the arrest of more than 30 people Friday as part of a two-year investigation into illegal drug trafficking in the Snohomish County town, Police Chief Tony Domish said.

Among those arrested were former Granite Falls Mayor Floyd "Butch" DeRosia, according our news partners at KING-TV.

DeRosia resigned from office in 2003 and lost a bid for re-election later that year.

He was elected in 2001 and resigned after a dispute arose involving two city employees and a sick-leave policy. DeRosia said he left to try to benefit the city and settle the issue, saying he had become "a lightning rod" in the dispute.

Domish said he would provide further details later Friday about the drug investigation.

KOMO-TV reported that the arrests were also being carried out by the Snohomish County drug task force. Most of the alleged crimes stemmed from the sale of methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription drugs, KOMO reported, quoting task force officials.

Four homes believed to be tied to illegal drug activity were raided as part of the law-enforcement operation, KOMO reported.

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April 5, 2010 12:54 PM

Big-mouth drug smuggler gets 10-year prison sentence

Posted by John de Leon

A Canadian drug smuggler who bragged to undercover agents that he had a hidden compartment built into his pickup for border crossings was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 10 years in prison.

Bradley K. Bourque, 35, of Langley, B.C., was arrested Oct. 20 after he delivered about 200,000 ecstasy pills (weighing more than 113 pounds) to undercover agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He reportedly bragged to the undercover officers about his smuggling, and the special secret compartment he had built into his GMC pickup, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. The secret compartment contained another 24 pounds of ecstasy pills and more than 13 pounds of ecstasy powder.

Border crossing records show Bourque had crossed from Canada into the U.S. five times in 2009 before his arrest.

Bourque pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute ecstacy on Jan. 6.

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April 1, 2010 12:42 PM

Washington residents targeted in large-scale meth bust

Posted by John de Leon

Several Washington state residents, including one from Tacoma, have been charged in connection with a large-scale ring that funneled methamphetamine from Mexico to California and Washington inside fake vehicle batteries.

According to an Associated Press report, federal authorities said 31 people faced drug charges in the crackdown.

The suspected ringleader, Jesus Marquez-Marquez, was believed to be in the Mexican state of Michoacan and has not yet been arrested, authorities said.

Marquez-Marquez, also known as Don Chuy, allegedly ran the drug ring that stored the drug in Tijuana before it was moved across the U.S.-Mexico border via hidden compartments and bogus car batteries.

Marquez-Marquez is accused in a federal complaint of having a number of distribution cells in California's Central Valley, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and the state of Washington, according to The Associated Press.

About 90 pounds of meth worth more than $5 million was seized Thursday as well as eight kilograms of cocaine. Ten people were arrested, and others were being sought, the Associated Press reports.

Each federal drug conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Washington men charged in connection with the operation are:

-- David Silva Benavides, also known as "Prieto," 28, of Othello,
who allegedly led a Don Chuy distribution cell in Washington.

-- Margarito Magaro, of Tacoma, who allegedly worked with the Washington-based distribution cell.

-- Jose Luis Mata-Garcia, who is in his late 30s, of Othello.

-- Iliana Farias, 30, hometown unknown, who allegedly was involved in the Washington-based distribution cell.

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March 25, 2010 12:39 PM

Two staff members arrested on drug charges at Rainier School

Posted by John de Leon

Two employees of Rainier School, a residential facility for people with intellectual disabilities, were arrested and booked into jail Wednesday night for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

The DSHS, which operates the facility in Buckley, Pierce County, asked the State Patrol to investigate based on tips. The State Patrol made the arrests after searching two cottages on the facility grounds.

"The use of drugs by staff on the job is absolutely unacceptable," Neil Crowley, facility superintendent, said in a news release. "We will take the strongest action possible if the charges are proved to be true."

Employees of the facility received criminal history background checks when hired as attendant counselors. The background checks showed no crimes that would have disqualified the two from working with vulnerable adults, according to the news release.

Rainier School houses 367 residents, ranging from ages 22 to 92 with an average age of about 53.

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March 17, 2010 12:17 PM

Two men charged after drug bust at Lakeside School parking lot

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Mike Carter:

Two men have been charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin after they were arrested Monday in the parking lot of Lakeside School in Seattle.

A complaint filed in U.S. District Court says children played in a soccer field nearby as federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents moved on the rendezvous between two cars in the parking lot. Agents had followed the cars there by listening to broadcasts over a transmitter hidden on a confidential source in one of the vehicles.

Agents found $11,200 in currency in one car and 2 1/2 pounds of heroin and an ounce of suspected methamphetamine in the other. The driver of the first car was identified as Victor Hugo Gutama. The second car was driven by Teodoro Contreras, and also contained a 15-year-old girl who told agents that Contreras had promised he'd drop her off after the drug deal.

The girl was not arrested, but both men were.

Both men are charged with a single count of conspiracy to distribute heroin, which carries a possible penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Neither of the men were affiliated with the school so it's unclear why they chose the school for the drug deal.

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March 4, 2010 10:25 PM

Yelm mom accused of giving cranky baby narcotic

Posted by Cathy McLain

From The Associated Press

A Yelm woman accused of giving a narcotic painkiller to her infant daughter because the baby was cranky has pleaded not guilty to drug and assault charges.

The Olympian reports the girl was unconscious last October when she was flown to Mary Bridge children's hospital in Tacoma. She's now in the custody of a relative.

Court papers say the mother, 20-year-old Aliese Marie Gatlin, told Thurston County deputies she put a Percocet pill in the baby bottle.

Gatlin pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance to a person under 18 and third-degree assault of a child.

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February 18, 2010 7:23 PM

Raids target pot-growing operations in Kitsap County

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Brian Rosenthal:

Kitsap County sheriff's deputies arrested two people for allegedly manufacturing marijuana in separate searches conducted Wednesday at homes in North Kitsap County.

At the first residence, in the 7100 block of Northeast 288th Street, police found 32 marijuana plants, processed marijuana packages, weight scales and four firearms, including a stolen rifle, according to a news release from the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office. Deputies arrested a 20-year-old woman and a placed her 2-year-old daughter in protective custody.

At the second home, in the 7300 block of Northeast 288th Street, police found growing marijuana plants, processed marijuana and plastic bags containing methamphetamine, according to the release. They arrested a 58-year-old man.

Both suspects were booked into Kitsap County Jail.

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February 16, 2010 12:34 PM

Seattle gang member sentenced to prison for dealing crack

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan

Joel Perry, 29, of Seattle, was sentenced in U.S. District Court Tuesday to more than six years in prison for distribution of cocaine.

Federal authorities tracked Perry selling the drug eight times between June 2006 and January 2008, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Perry has three prior convictions for drug dealing and has previously been arrested for weapons possession, including an attempt to smuggle a firearm into the King County Courthouse, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

During his sentencing hearing, Perry said that prison time "is something I deserve because I put myself in this position. I made the wrong decision. I want to change the stereotype that I put upon myself," according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Assistant United States Attorney Vince Lombardi wrote in court paperwork that "the government has targeted the gang Perry is most closely associated with, and is a well-known figure in that 'community.' Imposing a significant sentence will have more than a general deterrent value. Instead, it sends a real, specific message to the remaining members of Deuce-8, many of whom are juveniles -- stop dealing drugs, or face significant penalties."

Perry was also sentenced to five years of probation after his release from prison.

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February 5, 2010 3:47 PM

Drug dealer should've trusted his instincts

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Christine Clarridge:

No one ever accused drug dealers of being the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree.

Last Saturday, a Seattle police officer working undercover was standing on a sidewalk on 35th Avenue Southwest when he asked a man he assumed was dealing drugs whether there was any crack to be found.

At first the man first accused the undercover cop of being a "federal agent," according to a police report. But the man's entrepreneurial spirit got the best of him and he told the undercover cop to wait and he would see what he could do.

The man crossed the street, went to a bus stop and talked to a second person, according to the report. One of the two men walked back over to the officer and looked at the money in the officer's hand. The man then pretended he was putting crack in the officer's hand, but only touched the officer's palm.

The officer became irritated and started to walk away, but the suspect convinced the cop to accompany him to a bus stop in the 6300 block of 35th Avenue Southwest.
The officer had $30 in his hand, according to the report. One of the men grabbed the money, punched the cop in the chest and started yelling, "Give me the money!"

The officer gave a pre-arranged signal for "help" and other officers descended upon the group.

One adult and two juveniles were taken into custody and booked on investigation of robbery.

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February 4, 2010 1:59 PM

Renton man pleads guilty in 'La Familia' drug conspiracy

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Mike Carter:

A Renton man connected to the notorious Mexican drug cartel "La Familia" has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle to conspiracy charges involving distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine and money laundering.

Arturo Barajas Garcia, 32, Renton, was arrested in October as part of a nationwide crackdown dubbed "Project Coronado." A total of 20 people were charged in federal court in the Western District of Washington in connection with a conspiracy to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine in connection with the "La Familia" crime syndicate. He admitted that he managed the local storage of the drugs, which came to Seattle from Mexico via Los Angeles, prosecutors said.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors will recommend a sentence of between 13 and 17 years in prison when Barajas Garcia is sentenced in May before U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez. He also forfeited $230,000 in cash, a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado, seven guns, and property in Monroe as proceeds of the drug conspiracy.

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January 27, 2010 3:20 PM

PHOTO: Speeding car yields haul of meth and cocaine in Kirkland

Posted by John de Leon


STATE PATROL PHOTO

Some of the drugs seized from a car during a traffic stop in Kirkland.

A 24-year-old man from Mexico learned the hard way why it isn't smart to speed while hauling around a load of narcotics.

According to the State Patrol, the man was pulled over Tuesday afternoon after a trooper clocked him driving 73 mph in a 60 mph zone on Interstate 405 just north of 128th Street Northeast. The man was arrested for not having a driver's license or any other valid identification.

The trooper searched the man and found a one-inch baggie of cocaine and $425 in cash (mostly $20 bills) in his front pant pocket.

The trooper's K-9 then searched the interior of the man's 2007 Toyota Camry. In the center console was a plastic grocery bag containing 51 one-inch baggies of crystal methamphetamine, 11 one-inch baggies of cocaine and a sandwich bag full of cocaine, the State Patrol said.

Several other empty one-inch baggies were also located in the grocery bag.

The man was booked into King County Jail for investigation of possession of cocaine and methamphetamine with the intent to deliver. The drugs, cash, and vehicle were all seized.

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January 16, 2010 9:59 AM

More details on Friday's shooting in Kent

Posted by John de Leon

Kent police have released more information on the shooting Friday that resulted in no injuries.

The shooting happened around 2 p.m. at an apartment complex near the 11300 block of Kent Kangley Road. Police said several males entered one of the units and robbed the resident at gunpoint of marijuana. After they fled the victim grabbed a shotgun and chased after them, firing several rounds. No one was hit.


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Police responded and arrested two men, ages 18 and 21, and a 17-year-old boy. Police are looking for a fourth suspect, a 19-year-old man. Police recovered a shotgun at the scene as well as a handgun believed to have been used in the robbery.

Three nearby schools -- Kent-Meridian High School, Phoenix Learning Academy and Daniel Elementary School -- were placed in lockdown during the incident.

"This could have resulted in a tragedy and it's fortunate that no one was injured," Kent Police Lt. Lisa Price said in a news release. "Clearly this is not a random crime - the suspects were acquainted with each other and were involved in drug activity that ultimately endangered a large number of people. We are aggressively investigating this incident and are pleased that four of the five suspects involved have been identified."

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January 15, 2010 4:59 PM

Gang members sentenced to prison on drug, weapons offenses

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Mike Carter:

Three members of a violent street gang have been sentenced to prison for drug and gun offenses as part of a federal crackdown on gang violence. Federal prosecutors identified the men as members of the East Union Street Hustlers, which is affiliated with a larger gang called the Black Gangster Disciples, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Sentenced Friday were:

Thomas Callandret, 23, of Seattle, to three years in prison for possession of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute. Callandret also is a "person of interest" in a fatal Nov. 23, 2008, shooting of a rival gang member at Vito's nightclub.

Dimitrius Tinsley, 21, of Seattle, received a six-year sentence for conspiracy to distribute a drug called BZP, which is similar to Ecstacy. Officers seized numerous firearms from his home during a July 2009 search. Tinsley, according to federal agents, was also present at the Vito's homicide and also was at the scene of another fatal gang-related shooting in January 2008 at the Baltic Room in Seattle.

Avery Scharer, 23, was given an 18-month prison sentence for conspiring to distribute BZP. When police searched his car, they found a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun in his child's diaper bag, along with marijuana, a scale and packaging materials, according to court documents.

In sentencing memos in each case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Vince Lombardi filed court documents stating that the East Union Street Hustlers and their parent gang have been responsible for much of the Southeast Seattle gang violence.

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January 11, 2010 2:54 PM

Federal prosecutors: Drug ring shipped marijuana via FedEx

Posted by John de Leon

The leader of a crime ring involved in both drug trafficking and bank fraud was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 102 months in prison and ordered to pay about $30,000 in restitution for conspiracy to distribute marijuana and bank fraud.

Mario Earl, 31, was arrested in January 2009 following the investigation into a drug ring that was moving large amounts of marijuana from Seattle and Phoenix to Chicago. According to the U.S. Prosecutor's Office, members of the ring also were obtaining identity documents in other people's names and "skimming" identifying information from bank debit cards and credit cards.

Investigators learned that the leaders of the bank fraud ring were shipping 15- to 20-pound boxes of marijuana to Chicago via FedEx. The conspirators dumped fabric softener in the boxes to try to mask the smell of marijuana, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Willie James Earl, Marion Earl's brother, was a participant in the conspiracy and was sentenced in November to 68 months in prison.

Also sentenced today was Eddie Chaney, 37, of Seattle, who participated in the same marijuana trafficking conspiracy. Chaney was sentenced to 54 months for acting as a courier and for stealing the identity of an innocent victim in the attempt to avoid arrest on other criminal warrants.

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November 9, 2009 12:52 PM

Baby on board, along with heroin and DUI dad

Posted by John de Leon

Today's head-shaker comes from Mill Plain, way down by the Columbia River.

On Friday, State Patrol troopers pulled over a pickup that had been involved in a hit-and-run collision that had occurred around 12:32 p.m. on Interstate 205 near Mill Plain. Inside the car was a man, a woman and their 2-year-old child.

The trooper determined the driver, the man, was impaired and arrested him for investigation of DUI. The driver initially gave a false name, but was later identified as Aphixay Vilalay, 31, of Portland. Vilalay's driving privilege had already been suspended and there was a warrant for his arrest for driving with a suspended license.

The female passenger also appeared to under the influence of some sort of drug, the State Patrol said. At first she also gave a false name, but later was identified as Terra Vilalay, 32, of Portland.

Troopers found five bindles of suspected heroin and 13 syringes inside the pickup.
Aphixay Vilalay was booked into the Clark County Jail for investigation of hit and run, DUI, child endangerment, obstruction and on th warrant. Terra Vilalay was booked for investigation of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, obstruction and child endangerment.

The child was turned over to Child Protection Services.


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October 30, 2009 3:59 PM

Note to self: Don't weave when carrying weed

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Sara Jean Green:

Pot busts don't get any easier than this.

A 68-year-old California man was arrested late Thursday night after State Patrol troopers pulled him over in Kirkland and found 31 pounds of pot in the backseat.

The traffic stop came after a motorist called 911 around 11:30 p.m. Thursday to report an erratically-driven Ford Excursion on northbound Interstate 5 in Tukwila, said Trooper Dan McDonald. The other driver remained on the phone with a dispatcher and followed the Excursion across the 520 Bridge and then north on Interstate 405, McDonald said.

"It's outstanding -- we love that," he said of the other driver's willingness to follow the Excursion until troopers could stop it.

The Excursion was speeding up and then slowing down, making unsafe lane changes and weaving, McDonald said. The trooper who stopped the Excusion "could smell an overwhelming odor of marijuana" and noticed the driver displayed signs of being under the influence of marijuana, he said.

During a search of the man's SUV, the trooper found 31 pounds of marijuana packaged in several clear, one-gallon, plastic bags, McDonald said. The bags were sitting on the Excursion's back seat, he said.

The man also had rolls of $20 bills in his pockets ­-- $2,700 worth, McDonald said. A pipe was also found in the vehicle, he said.

The money, the pot and the man's vehicle were seized and he was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of marijuana and possession with intent to deliver, McDonald said.

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October 30, 2009 11:36 AM

Defendants don't wait around for jurors to find them guilty

Posted by John de Leon

Maybe they saw the writing on the wall.

Two King County men didn't bother to wait around for a federal court jury in Seattle to find them guilty of conspiracy to distribute ecstasy. Their chairs were empty this morning as jurors returned the verdict after their three-day trial.

Hardeep Singh, 18, of Kent, failed to appear in court after the first day of the trial, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Co-defendant Kaushal Kainth, 21, of Renton, managed to make it to the lunch break on the last day of trial before he apparently decided he had someplace else to be.

Jurors were instructed to ignore the fact that the defendants were no longer in the courtroom -- and were told not to speculate on their whereabouts -- before weighing their guilt, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Out of the presence of the jury, U.S. District Judge Richard Jones signed arrest warrants for both men, who are Indian Nationals with ties to Canada.

Jurors deliberated 2 1/2 hours before returning the guilty verdicts.

Singh and Kainth face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. They also face additional penalties for skipping out of the trial early.

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October 22, 2009 5:29 PM

PHOTO: Arlington drug raid nets weapons and marijuana

Posted by John de Leon


ARLINGTON POLICE PHOTO

Weapons and marijuana seized during a raid Wednesday at an Arlington home.

Police seized marijuana plants and packaged marijuana, cash and a cache of handguns and rifles during a raid Wednesday at an Arlington home.

The raid culminated an investigation that was initiated by Arlington Police Officer Seth Kinney after he received an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen. A 28-year-old man who lives at the home in the 4900 block of 196th Place Northeast was arrested and booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of drug charges.

Officers discovered a marijuana grow operation at the house, according to police.

An Arlington spokeswoman says the raid was not related to a series of raids in Washington and other states on Wednesday that targeted a Mexican drug cartel.


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October 22, 2009 10:43 AM

U.S. Attorney's Office's response to nationwide drug sweep

Posted by John de Leon

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle has just issued this news release in response to "Project Coronado," the nationwide sweep that targeted the La Familia drug cartel:

As part of a nationwide crackdown dubbed "Project Coronado," sixteen people were indicted in the Western District of Washington in a conspiracy to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine in connection with the "La Familia" crime syndicate. The investigation, begun in December 2008, links the distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine to the cartel based in Michoacan, Mexico. Of the sixteen people indicted last week, 14 have been arrested and two remain fugitives. Four more defendants are charged by complaint in federal court. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) led task force searched 19 residences and 22 vehicles in Washington and California, and seized 28 pounds of methamphetamine, 10 kilos of cocaine, seven guns, and an estimated $200,000 in cash.

"The cartel known as 'La Familia' is linked to horrible violence in Mexico, including the torture and murder of 12 Mexican Federal Police officers last July," said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. "This investigation and indictment target the poison tentacles of this cartel in our community."

These defendants are in federal custody:

ARTURO J. BARAJAS GARCIA, 32, Renton, Washington

ROSENDO BARRAGAN-BARRAGAN, 53, Monroe, Washington

GUDELIO J. OROZCO GOMEZ, 27, Kent, Washington

DEMETRIO SALDANA ROBLES, 26, Monroe, Washington

JUAN CARLOS SALDANA ROBLES, 23, Monroe, Washington

JORGE OCHOA AVILA, 39, Monroe, Washington

BENUSTIANO CARRANZA LUA, 41, Monroe, Washington

URIEL BALDOVINOS CRUZALEY, 29, Renton, Washington

EMMANUEL VALDOVINOS CRUZALEY, 26, Renton, Washington

JESUS MEDINA CONTRERAS, 42, Everett, Washington

CANDIDO HERNANDEZ, 41, Monroe, Washington

FRANCISCO VILLANUEVA VEGA, 37, Snohomish, Washington

JESENIA VAZQUEZ, 26, Kent, Washington

TRENT THOMAS JESMER, 31, Monroe, Washington

These defendants have been indicted and are fugitives:

DANIEL BARAJAS, 36, San Diego, California

CESAR BARAJAS PADILLA, 32, Mexico

Four additional defendants were charged by complaint in Washington with Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances:

JOSE JESUS AGUILAR-PADILLA, 22, of Monroe, Washington

CHRISTOPHER JETER, 34, Monroe, Washington

LIBERADO SANCHEZ-MAGANA, 41, San Jose, California (arrested in California)

JORGE LUIS SOLORIO-MENDOZA, 18, San Jose, California (arrested in California)

According to a search warrant affidavit and criminal complaint unsealed this morning in federal court, the conspirators are allegedly responsible for transporting large amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine from California to the Puget Sound region for distribution. Members of the drug organization were under surveillance by law enforcement as they arranged drug deals and sold drugs to an undercover officer. In one case detailed in the search warrant affidavit, a conspirator brought a young child about 4-years-old to a drug deal in the parking lot of a Monroe supermarket.

Many of the cars associated with the drug organization are believed to be equipped with secret compartments for carrying drugs from suppliers in the south. Those same hidden compartments are then used to transport money back to the source of supply. Of the eleven vehicles seized yesterday, at least three had secret traps.

"This is a salient day for law enforcement," stated Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Thomas. "Project Coronado was an effective law enforcement tool which exposed the expansive and entrenched nature of this drug trafficking organization. The organization expanded its operations from Mexico, into other states, and ultimately to the Pacific Northwest. Today's arrests are the direct result of the cohesive efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that combined resources and expertise to infiltrate, and neutralize this international drug trafficking organization."

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the South Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force consisting of Lynnwood Police Department, Mountlake Terrace Police Department, and Edmonds Police Department. The Burien Police Department, King County Sheriff's Office, the Seattle Police Department, Monroe Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Marshal's Service also participated in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Vogel and Special Assistant United States Attorney Adam Cornell. Mr. Cornell is a Deputy Snohomish County Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute drug crimes in federal court.

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October 15, 2009 12:16 PM

Pennsylvania cops nab pothead

Posted by John de Leon

OK, it's well out of our area, but we had to share this Associated Press item with you.

LEBANON, Pa. - Police in central Pennsylvania say they've nabbed a real pothead.

They say an officer spotted 29-year-old Cesar Lopez inside a convenience store with a bag of marijuana stuck to his forehead.

Investigators say Lopez was seen peering inside his baseball cap early Saturday morning in Lebanon, about 75 miles northwest of Philadelphia. When Lopez looked up, the officer noticed a small plastic bag appearing to contain marijuana stuck to his forehead.

Police say the officer peeled the bag off Lopez's forehead and placed him under arrest. He has been charged with drug possession. Police do not know whether Lopez has an attorney.

Authorities say the sweatband of a baseball cap is a frequent hiding place for drugs.

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October 13, 2009 1:22 PM

Canadian arrested with load of cocaine at border

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Mike Carter:

Federal agents at the U.S.-Canadian border have arrested the owner of a Canadian trucking firm and confiscated 192 pounds of cocaine they say was hidden in a truck he was driving from California into British Columbia.

Sukhvinder Shoker, the driver and owner of a firm advertised as Careful Movers and Delivery Services," is expected to appear for arraignment before a U.S. magistrate judge in Seattle this afternoon.

His truck was stopped on Saturday at the Pacific Highway Port of Entry and agents observed what appeared to be a false wall hiding a compartment in the back of his truck, according to a complaint filed today in federal court. Agents found 24 cardboard boxes containing 87 kilograms of cocaine, the complaint alleges.

According to the documents, Shoker picked the boxes up in California after a man he owed money to said he would work off the debt by moving several loads across the border. Shoker, the complaint says, told the agents he didn't know what was in the boxes, but knew it was illegal and probably contained drugs.

Federal prosecutors say the seizure is the largest cocaine interdiction at the border since July, when agents seized 238 pounds of the drug.

Shoker has been charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

UPDATE: Shoker appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler this afternoon. She ordered him jailed pending a detention hearing scheduled for Friday.

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October 8, 2009 3:32 PM

Three indicted in largest drug seizure ever at Sea-Tac Airport

Posted by John de Leon

Three people were indicted today following their arrest last week in connection with what authorities say is the largest drug seizure at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. According to the Port of Seattle, port police arrested the three as they were awaiting a flight to Alaska and seized 11 kilograms of cocaine from their checked luggage.

On Sept. 30, the suspects checked their bags before boarding a flight to Alaska. Transportation Security Administration officers discovered five kilograms of cocaine in one bag during a routine x-ray and notified Port of Seattle Police.

The bag owner was located at the departure gate and, with the help of airline personnel, was determined to be traveling with other companions. Police also searched two more bags and found an additional six kilograms of cocaine.

The suspects have been indicted in U.S. District Court for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, according to the port. The penalty is a mandatory minimum of 10 years to life in prison and up to a $4 million fine.

"Last week's seizure and arrests represent good police work, and I'm very proud of the officers and detectives who participated," said Port Police Chief Colleen Wilson. "I'm also grateful for the ongoing partnership with our colleagues at the TSA."

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September 14, 2009 3:45 PM

PHOTO: Ecstasy becomes agony for border drug smugglers

Posted by John de Leon


U.S. BORDER PATROL PHOTO

Ecstasy seized from car near the U.S.-Canada border this morning.

Border Patrol agents from the Blaine Border Patrol Station crossing this morning seized more than 37 pounds of ecstasy pills valued at $1.2 million from a car.

Border Patrol agents saw two people run from Canada through Peace Arch Park and climb into a vehicle on the U.S. side of the border. The agents followed the vehicle south and stopped it on Interstate 5. Inside, they found a gym bag containing the pills.

The two people who were seen entering the U.S. illegally were arrested and will be charged with drug smuggling, according to the Border Patrol. The Drug Enforcement Administration took custody of the suspects and drugs.

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September 8, 2009 10:56 AM

Another reputed drug dealer declines city's offer of help

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan

Terrance Jenkins, 52, has joined a growing group of alleged Central Area drug dealers to ignore a chance to avoid prosecution by going clean. Jenkins was in King County Superior Court on Friday facing two counts of violating the uniform controlled substances act. He was arrested on Aug. 29.

Jenkins was among 16 reputed dealers who last month were given a choice to clean up their act or face prosecution. So far, five -- including Jenkins -- have now apparently declined the city's offer and face criminal charges, according to King County prosecutors.

Jenkins was arrested for investigation of drug possession after police stopped a Pontiac in the 3000 block of East Spring Street, according to court charging papers. Police said they recognized Jenkins as one of the participants in the Drug Market Initiative Program.

Police found two cocaine rocks in Jenkins' pocket and $724.22 cash, the report said.

Last month, interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz invited 18 alleged dealers to the meeting. The 16 who showed up for the meeting were greeted by an auditorium full of police, prosecutors, friends, family, neighbors and service providers. The reputed drug dealers were confronted with photos, video clips and other evidence of drug dealing gathered in a yearlong operation along Seattle's 23rd Avenue corridor, from Madison to Jackson streets. The dealers were told they wouldn't be arrested or prosecuted if they sought job training, educational opportunities, housing assistance and chemical-dependency treatment.

The alleged dealers were told that if they declined the offer of help they would be prosecuted harshly.

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September 8, 2009 7:42 AM

MyBallard: Signs warn drug dealers to take business elsewhere

Posted by John de Leon

Ballard-area residents, fed up with drug-dealing in their neighborhoods, have begun posting signs urging residents to report drug activity, according to our news partners at MyBallard.com. Two signs have been posted at Northwest 70th Street and Ninth Avenue Northwest, and at Northwest 60th Street and 11th Avenue Northwest, according to the blog, which includes photos.

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September 2, 2009 12:27 PM

KING-TV: Big pot bust near Tiger Mountain summit

Posted by John de Leon

Our news partners at KING-TV are reporting that there's been a huge pot bust north of the Tiger Mountain summit. We'll post a story as soon as we find out more details.

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August 31, 2009 1:11 PM

Trooper smells pot, arrests driver in Bremerton

Posted by John de Leon

A 23-year-old Federal Way woman was arrested in Bremerton during a traffic stop after a State Patrol trooper found a quarter-pound of marijuana in her vehicle.

The trooper noticed the odor of marijuana coming from the car when he pulled the woman over on state Highway 3, near the interchange with state Highway 304, around 10:15 Sunday night. the State Patrol said. The driver produced a joint and a search of her vehicle turned up individually packaged marijuana.

The driver was also found to be driving on a suspended license. Her vehicle was impounded and she was booked into the Kitsap County Jail on $20,000 bail.


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August 7, 2009 1:05 PM

Man gets more than 8 years in prison for peddling Oxycontin

Posted by Nick Provenza

Ronald L. Flemings, Jr. is a gang member and a convicted killer -- he did a prison stretch for shooting a woman in cold blood in West Seattle in 1992.

So when he came for sentencing this morning in federal court in Seattle for peddling Oxycontin pills to a police informant last fall, he could have faced more than 15 years in a federal penitentiary -- more than the 11-year term he did for the murder.

Instead, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman handed the 38-year-old Flemings an 8 1/3 - year term and ordered him to undergo drug treatment while behind bars, citing his long addiction problems, his seriously ill wife and young children at home.

Still, Pechman told him, "when you have a criminal history like this, you can't make any missteps."

Flemings, who lives in Tacoma, was caught in October selling 200 Oxycontin pills to a King County Sheriff's informant who knew Flemings as "Black." As soon as Flemings handed the informant the pills in a chain-restaurant parking lot in Federal Way, the cops swooped in. Flemings pleaded guilty in April.

Prosecutors say Flemings has a long history as a member of the Black Gangster Disciples street gang, and more recently has been a "sergeant at arms" with an outlaw motorcycle crew called the "Drama Boyz."

In January 1992, when he was 21 and living in Seattle's High Point neighborhood, Flemings announced to his buddies that he was "fixing to do some shooting." He then inexplicably pulled his .38-caliber handgun and opened fire on an acquaintance, Verlinda McDowell, a 30-year-old mother of three, as she walked down the street toward her grandmother's house.

The slaying was highly publicized for its cold-blooded brutality. A couple days afterward, two of Flemings' friends attacked a witness who had fingered Flemings, beating him severely with bottles and a metal bar while calling him a snitch.

Flemings pleaded guilty to second-degree murder a few months later and was sentenced to 11 years, nine months in state prison.

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July 31, 2009 2:24 PM

Recipe for arrest: Traffic stop turns up marijuana butter

Posted by John de Leon

A Mountlake Terrace police officer stopped a car in the 21900 block of 76th Avenue Southwest shortly before midnight last night and arrested the driver for suspicion of driving under the influence. A search of the vehicle turned up about nine pounds of "marijuana butter," according to a police report.

The investigation into the marijuana led police to a home near 224th Street Southwest and 62nd Avenue West in Mountlake Terrace, where police this morning found a dismantled marijuana-grow operation and arrested one person. Police found 20 starter plants, approximately three more pounds of marijuana butter and seven pounds of processed marijuana bud.


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Marijuana butter is manufactured by cooking marijuana leaves or bud with butter, straining the product and then chilling it. It is then used in cooking or simply consumed for its effects, according to police.

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July 22, 2009 10:03 AM

Pharmaceutical opiates leading cause of overdose deaths in King County

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Christine Clarridge:

The number of people who died from pharmaceutical opiates -- including Percocet and Vicodin -- increased sharply last year, replacing heroin and cocaine as the primary drugs involved in overdose deaths in King County, according to a report released today.

According to the study, pharmaceutical opiates contributed to 153 of the 256 overdose deaths in the county in 2008, based on statistics culled from the King County Medical Examiner's Office. Pharmaceutical-type opiates, in combination with other drugs, caused more than double the number of deaths in which another substance was the primary drug, researchers found.

Cocaine and heroin contributed to the deaths of 130 people, according to the study.

Chief author of the study, Caleb Banta-Green, a research epidemiologist at the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, said he was more concerned than surprised by the findings. The pharmaceutical opiates listed in the study were methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone.

According to the study, the total number of people ages 18 to 29 who were admitted to treatment for addiction to prescription-type opiates increased from 87 in 1999 to 614 in 2008. Prescription-type opiates accounted for 39 percent of the deaths among people 50 or older, according to the study.

In addition to the prescription opiates, 84 percent of the fatal overdose victims had taken another drug, including alcohol, in conjunction with the opiates, the study reported.

The research group -- which included other academics, law enforcement officials, members of Public Health - Seattle & King County -- found that cocaine and heroin remained high as contributors to overdose and death. Cocaine was identified as the chief drug in 71 of the 256 overdose deaths last year and heroine was identified in 59 of the cases.

Methamphetamine overdoses continued to decline and caused 13 deaths last year, according to the study, compared with 18 in 2007 and 19 in 2006.

Medical examiners found more than one drug present in the majority of overdose cases, according to the study.

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July 8, 2009 4:19 PM

Feds: Canadian tried to smuggle coke across border

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Ian Ith:

A Canadian man was arrested at the border at Blaine Tuesday after border guards said they caught him trying to smuggle more than 100 kilograms of cocaine back into Canada.

Kevin Marocchi was charged Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle with one count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The charge carries at least 10 years in prison if he is convicted.

About noon Tuesday, Customs and Border Protection agents stopped Marocchi in his Ford F-150 pickup as he headed north on Interstate 5 toward Canada, the charging documents said. On the front seat of the truck agents found a shopping bag containing a package of cocaine that had been sliced open, the documents said.


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They opened the canopy to the back of the truck and found five cardboard boxes with a total of 100 plastic-wrapped packages of cocaine, the prosecution alleges. It all weighed in at 108 kilos, or 238 pounds.

Marocchi remains held in federal detention pending a hearing next week.

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June 29, 2009 4:27 PM

Feds: Drug smuggler's sense of relief short-lived

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Ian Ith:

We can only imagine the sense of relief that Krysta Edwards must have felt on Friday when border guards at Blaine searched her Ford Explorer but then simply told her she was free to go.

Because tucked inside a secret compartment in the back were more than 100,000 pills of BZP, a very illegal designer club drug, according to federal prosecutors.

What the Vancouver, B.C., woman didn't know is that her relief would be very short-lived. That's because the border guards had actually discovered the pills. But they put them back, closed up the compartment, and then followed Edwards to her drop-off point in Bellingham, the court documents say.

Now Edwards and her alleged accomplice, a Canadian man named Nen Cruces, are charged in U.S. District Court in Seattle with possession of the drug with intent to distribute.

According to the prosecutors' documents, Edwards wheeled her Explorer up to the border Friday morning, but was waved out of line for "secondary inspection." Edwards was taken away, and agents found the hidden compartment, which they jimmied open. Then they closed up the compartment the best they could and welcomed Edwards to the United States.

She bee-lined to the Bellis Fair Mall in Bellingham, where she met Cruces, the documents charge. She followed him to a storage place, where they backed the Explorer into a unit. But a few minutes later, they both took off in Cruces' subcompact.

The agents then followed the pair around for hours, watching as they went to a bowling alley and a grocery store. Then they returned to the locker, and the agents moved in and arrested them, finding the drugs inside.

According to the court documents, Edwards told the agents that as soon as Cruces opened up the Explorer and saw that someone already had popped the compartment, he "flipped out" and decided they both needed to beat it. It's not exactly clear what possessed them to go back to the storage unit, but Edwards said Cruces had made a few nervous phone calls from a pay phone before deciding to risk it.

BZP -- you can call it N-benzylpiperazine if you want ­-- is a fairly new stimulant that's hip with the raver crowd. It's sometimes passed off as ecstasy or sold as an alternative. It was made just as illegal as ecstasy, heroin and methamphetamine in the U.S. in 2004.

But not in Canada. It's apparently legal there, and sometimes is sold in wacky packages with names like "PureRush."

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June 16, 2009 5:58 AM

Kitsap County SWAT bags five after Monday standoff

Posted by John de Leon

Kitsap County sheriff's deputies had to roll out the SWAT team -- along with some tear gas -- on Monday to arrest five people suspected of a variety of crimes.

Sheriff's deputies and detectives went to a home in the 4400 block of Sidney Road Southwest around 9:30 a.m. to serve a felony theft warrant on a 23-year-old woman. No one answered the door, but a deputy saw someone throw a firearm out of a bedroom window.

Bad move.

Sheriff's deputies surrounded the home and called in police from Port Orchard to assist. After several attempts to contact the occupants of the home, seven people walked out and surrendered. But two men remained inside.

However, they were convinced to leave the house through a bedroom window after some prompting by a well-placed canister of tear gas.

In addition to the five arrests, deputies also seized a quarter-pound of crystal methamphetamine, 3.5 grams of heroin, marijuana, a loaded.45-caliber semi-automatic handgun reported stolen out of Tacoma, and a 22-caliber semi-automatic handgun.

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June 3, 2009 6:54 AM

27 pounds of Ecstasy seized from Seattle-bound man

Posted by Nick Provenza

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have arrested a British Columbia man after 27 pounds of Ecstasy were found in the gas tank of his minivan. They say the man told them he was driving to Seattle to buy healing crystals.

Chief Tom Schreiber identified the man as 69-year-old Amar Dutt of Surrey, B.C.

A Border Patrol drug-sniffing dog detected the drugs. Schreiber says officers removed several vacuum-sealed bags containing more than 48,000 Ecstasy tablets with a street value of about $500,000.

Since the Friday evening arrest, the man has been transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

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May 21, 2009 7:06 AM

Drooling driver found sleeping in Silverdale drive-through

Posted by Nick Provenza

The Kitsap Sun says that a 21-year-old Silverdale man was arrested early Saturday after deputies found him passed out in the drive-through of a fast-food restaurant.

The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office reports that deputies were called to the 9900 block of Cranway Lane at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Witnesses told them the man had been stopped inside the Wendy's drive-through for about 30 minutes, even though the drive-through was closed. Deputies noticed a beer in the truck's cup holder.

Deputies said the man's head was hanging and "drool (was) coming from his mouth." The man tried to drive away when officers were finally able to wake the man, but a state trooper had shut the truck off. He was uncertain of where he was and appeared "very confused," deputies said.

He was eventually arrested on suspicion of physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated and taken to the Kitsap County jail. Deputies also found marijuana in his pockets.

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May 21, 2009 7:01 AM

Lynnwood man won't face charges in teen's death

Posted by Nick Provenza

The Herald in Everett says today that a Lynnwood man once jailed in connection with the fatal overdose of 16-year-old boy won't face charges for the boy's death.

Prosecutors say they don't believe they can prove to a jury that Robert Spillum, 30, supplied the drugs that caused Jamie Leavitt's death on April 23, 2008. Leavitt died of acute methamphetamine intoxication.

Investigators believe Leavitt overdosed after he drank "worb water" -- drug slang for the residue left over after meth is smoked in a water pipe. Worb water usually contains a high concentration of meth, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Helene Blume wrote in court documents.

Here's The Herald's story.

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May 15, 2009 10:25 AM

VIDEO: Everett police believe pharmacy robberies may be linked

Posted by John de Leon

Everett police are investigating two pharmacy robberies in the past six days that may be the work of the same suspects. The video above shows the suspects leaving the scene of the first robbery.

The robberies occurred at 9 a.m. on May 8, and 5:45 p.m. on May 13. In each of the robberies two suspects armed with handguns, both wearing a mask over their face, walked into two separate pharmacies in Everett and robbed them at gunpoint. The suspects ordered customers to the floor and then one suspect demanded the pharmacy employee to give them all of their narcotics.

Witnesses in both robberies said they saw the robbers flee in a gold sedan. Some described the car as a Volvo, while another witness thought it might be a Toyota Camry.

The suspects are both believed to be white males in the 20s. Both are between 5-feet-6 and 5-feet-9, with slender builds.

The May 8 robbery occurred at a pharmacy in the 200 block of East Casino Road. In that robbery the suspects got away with several thousands of dollars of narcotics. The second occurred at a pharmacy in the 3300 block of Nassau Street. The amount of loss at this pharmacy is still being determined.

Anyone with information on the robberies are asked to call the Everett Police Department TIP LINE at 425-257-8450.

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May 14, 2009 7:08 AM

Trapdoor led police to underground crop of marijuana in Everett

Posted by Nick Provenza

Profits from his first crop reportedly financed more high-tech equipment for the marijuana growing operation stashed under his basement floor. Bugs are said to have devoured his second and third crops. The cops found his fourth, according to a story in The Herald of Everett.

Prosecutors earlier this week charged the 50-year-old with manufacturing a controlled substance, a felony.

The Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force late last year seized more than 100 pot plants from under the man's house, deputy prosecutor Matthew Baldock wrote in court documents.

Drug detectives say the man went to a lot of trouble to hide the indoor pot farm. Still, he didn't keep his stash a secret from everyone. An informant ratted him out, police said.

The task force raided the man's house in December. They pushed a clothes dryer aside and found a trapdoor. Under the door a short ladder led to an area below the basement floor.

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May 12, 2009 8:32 AM

Bremerton man found asleep with bag of marijuana in hand; busted

Posted by Nick Provenza

The Kitsap Sun reports that a 42-year-old Bremerton man was arrested early Saturday after an officer said he found him with a bag of marijuana in his hand an another filled with other drugs in his lap, according to Bremerton Police reports.

An officer patrolling on a bicycle just after midnight said he was told of a drug deal going down in the parking lot at the 900 block of Callow Avenue.

When the cop pulled up to one of the cars in the lot, he saw the 42-year-old inside with a "small baggie of green material," in hand, and a clothlike bag on his lap. The man appeared to be sleeping, the officer said.

The man woke up and quickly placed the cloth bag under his seat, reports said, and then told the officer: "I just have this marijuana."

The officer arrested the man and felt he had cause to search under the seat, "since it likely contained evidence of the drug possession," reports said.

He found the cloth bag, which had a spoon, syringes, and small amounts of Ecstasy, cocaine and meth inside, reports said.

The man was booked into the Kitsap County jail on $50,000 bail.

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May 1, 2009 1:26 PM

Prolific pharmacy burglar headed to prison

Posted by John de Leon

A Marysville man was sentenced to four and a half years in prison today in U.S. District Court in Seattle for conspiring to burglarize pharmacies and distribute oxycodone.

Brian P. Green, 29, was part of a prolific pharmacy burglary ring that targeted pharmacies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California between 2004 and 2006. During that time, Washington state lead the country in the number of pharmacy burglaries, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. He pleaded guilty in January.

During his sentencing, Green said he had become addicted to oxycodone as a result of a motorcycle accident, and began burglarizing pharmacies as a way to satisfy his drug addiction, and earn profit by selling controlled pharmaceuticals to other drug abusers.

Green is the last of 26 defendants to be charged and convicted in this case.

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April 20, 2009 7:53 PM

STREAMING DOCUMENTS: Court filings in Honduran drug case

Posted by John de Leon

Most of the Honduran immigrants arrested Saturday during a police crackdown on drug-dealing in Belltown appeared in court this afternoon. Here are the probable cause documents filed against the suspects as well as a police description of the investigation.

Belltown PC Statements for Adult Suspects

Publish at Scribd or explore others: Law & Government Business & Law belltown court documents


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April 16, 2009 11:59 AM

PHOTOS: Border Patrol finds duffel bags of "B.C. Bud"

Posted by John de Leon


U.S. BORDER PATROL PHOTO

Duffel bags containing "B.C. Bud".

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Sumas Station found 149 pounds of "B.C. Bud" marijuana, with an estimated street value of nearly $750,000, in a wooded area along the border.

The pot was in three duffel bags that agents found early this morning in a wooded area near the border. They notified the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that the people believed to be transporting the pot may have fled into Canada. After searching the area for more than three hours, Border Patrol agents apprehended one individual. Canadian authorities also apprehended another person on the Canadian side of the international boundary.


U.S BORDER PATROL PHOTO

The marijuana found near the border was in individually wrapped packets.



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April 14, 2009 2:40 PM

Whidbey Island business shut down because of meth contamination

Posted by John de Leon

The Island County Health Department has temporarily shut down a car dealership near Oak Harbor after the business was found to be contaminated with methamphetamine residue, according to the Whidbey News Times.

"It was contaminated to levels we haven't seen before in the county," Marie Piper, an environmental health specialist, tells the newspaper. "We're getting higher numbers than we get in meth labs."

The Island County Sheriff's Office arrested 41-year-old Nolan Brown, the operator of the car lot, on March 5 on suspicion of dealing meth. The county health department tested the building and three cars for meth residue and found high levels of contamination.

The resideue left behind by meth and its production can cause long-term health problems, which we reported in a 2006 story on cleaning up meth labs.

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April 7, 2009 2:36 PM

PHOTOS: Ecstasy bust at U.S.-Canada border

Posted by John de Leon


U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PATROL PHOTO

Customs and Border Patrol officers say ecstasy was hidden in this spare tire.


U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PATROL PHOTO

Ecstasy seized at border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Pacific Highway Port of Entry arrested a 53-year-old Surrey, B.C. man on Monday for attempting to smuggle 107,339 tablets of ecstasy worth more than $1 million into the U.S.

The ecstasy was discovered hidden within the spare tire of a 1999 pickup being driven by Paul Tremblay. The ecstacy was in 30 packages of multi-colored tablets. Tremblay was arrested and turned over to agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for further investigation and prosecution.

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April 6, 2009 6:35 PM

Seattle man pleads guilty to growing pot in suburban homes

Posted by John de Leon

A 36-year-old Seattle man, who federal prosecutors say organized several marijuana grow houses in Snohomish County, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. Jerry R. Berkey faces a prison sentence of between seven years and three months and nine years when he is sentenced on July 10 in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

According to a news release, over the past five years Berkey organized marijuana grow operations in suburban homes with several other people. He would pay for the rent, plants and would distribute the marijuana to buyers. The news release said Berkey grew more than 4,000 plants at five different homes in Lynnwood, Everett and Edmonds.

Prosecutors allege that each of the grow operations brought in about $3,000 every 30 days.

Berkey was arrested Oct. 10, and was indicted by a federal grand jury about two weeks later.

Police and prosecutors say residential homes, particularly in Seattle's suburbs, are increasingly being used to hide marijuana grow operations. Times staff reporter Jonathan Martin wrote about the trend in a July 2007 story.

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March 24, 2009 10:19 AM

UPDATE: Feds bust cross-border helicopter drug ring

Posted by John de Leon

Jeffrey C. Sullivan, the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, and other law enforcement officials this morning announced that authorities in the U.S. and Canada recently made several arrests and seized drugs in a cross-border smuggling group that used helicopters to transport "B.C. Bud" marijuana and cocaine across the border.

All told, nine people were arrested and two helicopters seized during the operation. In addition, 600 pounds of marijuana and 80 kilograms of cocaine were seized in the U.S. and another 150 pounds of marijuana and 40 Ecstasy pills were seized in Canada. One of the helicopter pilots, Samuel Linsday-Brown, 24, of British Columbia, committed suicide in a Spokane jail in February following his arrest.

We'll post a story on our Web site immediately after the news conference.

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March 19, 2009 2:38 PM

Car thefts lead cops to Maple Valley meth lab

Posted by John de Leon

Bellevue police detectives, in a joint operation Wednesday night with the King County Sheriff's SWAT team, raided a methamphetamine lab in an abandoned Maple Valley home. A 46-year-old Maple Valley man was arrested and booked into the King County Jail on suspicion of manufacturing methamphetamine.

Bellevue Police detectives turned up evidence about the meth lab through investigations of car thefts in Bellevue. The detectives began surveillance and observed the suspect buying materials used for meth production. Based on that information, they obtained an arrest warrant for the suspect and a search warrant for the abandoned house.

King County SWAT then executed the search warrant on the home, and found what one SWAT team member described as the largest lab he had seen in several years.

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March 18, 2009 5:30 PM

Traffic accident leads to two arrests and a cited driver

Posted by John de Leon


WASHINGTON STATE PATROL

Rescue personnel help driver injured in crash.

At 9:15 this morning, a State Patrol trooper was driving north on I-5 near Bridgeport Way in Pierce County when he saw a 1995 Nissan left the roadway, hit a small tree and vaulted into the air, striking the cement overpass.

The trooper rushed to the vehicle to make sure everyone was OK and discovered the driver of the Nissan was trapped behind the wheel in her car. Fire and aid units were called to the scene.

A 16-year-old female passenger was found to be in possession of methamphetamine. She also had $3,721 in cash, a scale and 13 Vicodin pills, the State patrol says. She was arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs with intent to deliver. She sustained minor injuries and was taken to St. Claire hospital. She was later booked into the Pierce County Jail on the charges.

Another passenger in the vehicle, 21-year-old Ahria J. Kelly of Graham, also received minor injuries and was taken to St. Claire Hospital. After release from the hospital, he was booked into the Pierce County Jail for two outstanding misdemeanor warrants.

The driver, 23-year-old Crystal Green of Tacoma, was taken to Tacoma General Hospital with serious injuries. It is believed Green had fallen asleep. She will be cited for suspicion of second-degree negligent driving.

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February 25, 2009 10:02 AM

Cops corral cocaine, cash from car

Posted by John de Leon

Seattle police arrested two men and recovered more than 10 ounces of crack cocaine and $2,400 in cash during a drug bust this morning in the 2700 block of Northeast 123rd Street.

According to police, officers with the North Anti Crime Team responded to a report of two men possibly dealing drugs out of a parked vehicle at about 1:20 a.m. Police contacted the two men and arrested them. The officers found the cocaine, which they say has a street value of over $30,000.

Both men were booked into King County Jail for violation of the uniform substance act and possession with intent to sell as well as warrants.

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February 16, 2009 6:46 AM

Man gets life in prison for slayings in Everett pot house

Posted by John de Leon

Times staff reporter Jonathan Martin wrote in 2007 about the increasing use of residential homes to grow pot. Now a Tacoma man is facing a life sentence in prison for the slayings of two people in a house used as an indoor marijuana-growing operation.

On Friday, Snohomish County judge sentenced Areewa Saray, 21, to life in prison for his role in killing a young woman and her boyfriend inside the Everett house on July 2, 2007. Saray, was convicted last month of aggravated murder in the 2007 slayings of Linda Nguyen and Kevin Meas.

Nguyen, who was 20, and Meas, 24, were killed during a robbery inside a house where they were paid to care for an indoor marijuana-growing operation. A co-defendant, 25-year-old Sarouen Phai, is expected to go to trial in March.

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February 10, 2009 8:46 PM

Bothell man's bust nets big score for Oregon cops

Posted by John de Leon

Oregon State Police hit the jackpot last week when they stopped a Bothell man in the Salem area.

On Friday morning an Oregon State Police sergeant stopped a rented 2009 Nissan Xterra on Interstate 5 for speeding. During a search of the vehicle authorities found approximately two ounces of opium and $419,425 in cash. The seized opium has an estimated value of approximately $2,500.

The vehicle's driver, David Eyvaz Saee, 56, was arrested and booked into the Marion County Jail for investigation of unlawful possession and distribution of a controlled substance. The 59-year old passenger from Oregon was not arrested.

Saee was arraigned Tuesday morning and released after posting $6,000 bail.

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February 6, 2009 10:37 AM

Cashmere Queen dethroned over paraphernalia bust

Posted by John de Leon


A screen shot of River Street Photography's cached blog post about Cashmere's Queen Sarah Young, in blue, and Princess Leah Griffith.

On the heels of the dust-up over Michael Phelps' bong-hit, the Cashmere Queen has now been stripped of her crown after pleading guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia.

The Wenatchee World is reporting that 18-year-old Sara Young was sentenced last month to one year probation and fined $293. She had been a passenger in a car in which a Chelan County sheriff's deputy found marijuana and two pipes.

The Queen Cashmere contest director, Kim Phillips, said the misdemeanor violated the contest's code of conduct. In addition to the title, Young loses a $1,000 scholarship.

The 2008 runner-up, Princess Leah Griffith, will assume the duties of Cashmere queen until the next royalty selection in March.

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February 6, 2009 9:09 AM

Mukilteo man convicted of dealing meth from home, business

Posted by John de Leon

It took a U.S. District Court jury in Seattle only two hours of deliberation on Thursday to convict 45-year-old Michael Fjerstad of Mukilteo of selling meth sales from his home and Seattle business.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, a confidential source alerted a Seattle police officer to drug dealing by Fjerstad in the summer of 2007. Police then learned the Drug Enforcement Administration was already working on information that Fjerstad was dealing meth from his Mukilteo home and Seattle area business. On three occasions, a confidential informant purchased methamphetamine from Fjerstad.

When search warrants were served on his home and business on July 30, 2007, agents and officers found drugs, cash and other evidence of drug dealing, as well as significant 130 rounds of ammunition, included 82 rounds of hollow-point bullets. Fjerstad had been previously convicted in Snohomish County of felony drug possession and therefore was prohibited from possessing ammunition.

When Fjerstad is sentenced on May 1, he faces a mandatory minimum term of 20 years in prison and a maximum term of life in prison.

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January 29, 2009 3:09 PM

Agents seize $2.6 million in Ecstasy near Canadian border

Posted by John de Leon

Border Patrol agents assigned to the crossing at Blaine, Whatcom County on Wednesday night thwarted two separate smuggling attempts to bring in over 220,000 tablets of Ecstasy with a total value of $2.6 million 644,000 from Canada into the U.S.

In the first case, agents saw a vehicle leaving an area that is notorious for narcotics smuggling. Agents followed the vehicle, but lost it. The car was later found abandoned by Ferndale police. Twenty large vacuum-sealed bags containing 100,000 tablets of Ecstasy valued at $1.2 million and a set of night vision goggles were found in the trunk.

On a separate incident near Sumas, Border Patrol agents responded to a remote video surveillance report of a suspicious vehicle lurking close to the Canadian border. Agents stopped the vehicle and conducted a search that turned up two suit cases in the rear cargo area. A total of 120,000 tablets of Ecstasy valued at $1.4 million were discovered inside the suitcases.

The Drug Enforcement Administration took custody of the suspects, vehicles and drugs.

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January 28, 2009 11:16 AM

Everett man arrested for dealing drugs from police station restroom

Posted by John de Leon

A 24-year-old Everett man was arrested this morning in the men's restroom at the Everett Police Department for allegedly attempting to sell OxyCodone and other drugs from a stall, Everett police report.

A plainclothes sergeant and an officer from the department’s training unit were in the restroom when they heard the man answer his cell phone and attempt make a deal for the drugs.

The man admitted to police that he was trying to make the drug deals and handed over his stash of drugs to the officers. He was arrested and booked into the Snohomish County Jail for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

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January 23, 2009 10:30 AM

Marysville man gets 15-year sentence in meth case

Posted by John de Leon

A Marysville man was sentenced this morning in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 15 years in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Jose Lucas Zamora, 39, was convicted by a federal jury on Oct. 2 following a three-day trial.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Zamora was arrested Jan. 26, 2008, after delivering more than a pound of methamphetamine to an undercover police officer in exchange for $17,000. Zamora sped away after the deal and tried to elude police, racing through Lynnwood, and driving very close to some children playing in a cul-de-sac. Zamora crashed his car into a tree and was arrested by police.

Zamora was part of a drug ring was under investigation by the South Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration for about a year, with Zamora and his associates making drug sales to undercover officers, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Zamora's brother Efrain Zamora has been indicted in the case and remains a fugitive. Co-defendant Jose Christopher Crist was sentenced Nov. 14 to five years in prison, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.


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January 16, 2009 11:03 AM

Federal Way man sentenced for cocaine smuggling

Posted by John de Leon

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle says Leroy Carr, 47, of Federal Way, was sentenced today in a case involving drug trafficking across the U.S.-Canada border.

Here's the U.S. Attorney's Office news release:

LEROY CARR, 47, of Federal Way, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 14 years in prison and five years of supervised release for Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute. CARR was convicted in October 2008, following a four day jury trial. CARR was arrested September 15, 2007, about 100 yards south of the Sumas Port of Entry after multiple interactions with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said there were “a number of signs CARR was involved in substantial amounts of smuggling over a period of time.”

According to records in the case and testimony at trial, CARR had come to the attention of border agents on numerous occasions, each time in the possession of large amounts of cash and tools commonly used by smugglers, including night vision goggles and a GPS system containing coordinates to a well-known smuggling trail. On August 7, 2007, CARR contacted ICE agents at the border claiming that he had stashed 31 kilograms of cocaine in two blue backpacks near the border. CARR indicated the drugs were hidden in the brush near the entrance to a boy scout camp. CARR said he stashed the drugs August 3rd, and when he returned on August 4th, they were gone. CARR wanted the ICE agents to put out a press release saying the government had seized the drugs, so that the organized criminal group he works for would not retaliate against him for stealing the drugs. Two weeks later, on August 21, 2007, a Boy Scout Ranger called the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force and reported two blue backpacks he had just found near the entrance to a Boy Scout camp that appeared to contain cocaine. The backpacks were dry and in good shape. Tests showed they contained 31 kilograms of cocaine.

At trial CARR testified falsely, trying to claim he never possessed the drugs and didn’t really know where they were, even though he had specifically described the location to the ICE agents and even drew them a map. At sentencing prosecutors argued CARR’s sentence should reflect the fact that CARR lied repeatedly while under oath on the witness stand. Judge Martinez said there was substantial evidence CARR had lied, but the judge declined to use that fact as a basis for increasing CARR’s sentence.

In asking for a significant sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Kate Crisham wrote to the court that “The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that this was not CARR’s first time trafficking cocaine, and that on the contrary, he had smuggled drugs across the border on numerous occasions on behalf of the Hell’s Angels. As CARR himself acknowledged at trial, cocaine is an extremely dangerous drug that has destroyed lives and ravaged communities. As a cocaine smuggler, Defendant was an integral part of the illegal distribution network that continues to feed the demand for the drug.”

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January 15, 2009 3:06 PM

Feds bust Skagit County cocaine ring

Posted by John de Leon


The U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle today announced the arrest of 16 people in connection with a drug ring centered in Skagit County. The ring allegedly smugged five to 10 kilos of cocaine a month into the U.S. from Mexico. Law enforcement officials have said they've seen an increase in the amount of drugs smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico, which has been covered previously in The Times. To see an earlier story, click here.

Here's the full text of a U.S. Attorney's Office news release on today's drug bust:

Sixteen people were arrested today following a year long investigation of a drug distribution conspiracy centered in Skagit County, Washington. The drug ring allegedly smuggled five to ten kilos of cocaine per month into the United States from Mexico and distributed it in Skagit County. The ring also allegedly smuggled pound quantities of heroin.Today alone, law enforcement seized five pounds of heroin and two pounds of cocaine when officers searched five residences. Officers also seized $23,000 in cash, seven vehicles and two firearms. Eight of the defendants have been indicted in federal court, and seven people have been detained facing either charges in Skagit County Superior Court, or immigration proceedings. One defendant likely will be processed as a juvenile.

The investigation utilized court approved wire-taps, and confidential informants to infiltrate the drug ring as it recruited people to transport cocaine from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico into the United States.

These defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury and will make their initial appearance today at 2:30 in U.S. District Court in Seattle:

ALFONSO GUTIERREZ-OROZCO, a/k/a “Saul,” 25, of Mount Vernon, WA

FERNANDO HERNANDEZ-SALAZAR, a/k/a “Tino,” 20, of Mount Vernon, WA

ABEL OROZCO-GUTIERREZ, a/k/a “Kalvin,”34, of Tacoma. WA

JOEL VASQUEZ-VASQUEZ, 21, of Mount Vernon, WA

LUIS MIGUEL CAMPOS-ALVARADO, 18, of Mount Vernon, WA

SAMUEL VACA-GARCIA, 26, Bellingham, WA

These defendants will make their initial appearance in U.S. District Court at 2:30 tomorrow:

JESSIE SMITH, 26, of Sedro Woolley, WA

TAMMY ZOROTOVICH, 39, of Bellingham, WA

The charges in the indictment are punishable by a mandatory minimum ten years in prison up to life in prison.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Immigration and Justice Enforcement (ICE), the Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit (SCIDEU) which consists of officers from the Washington State Patrol (WSP), Skagit County Sheriff’s Office and Anacortes Police Department. These additional agencies assisted with the arrests and searches today: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Mount Vernon Police Department, the National Guard, the Bellingham Police Department, and the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force (NWRDTF).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Diggs and Karyn Johnson and Special Assistant United States Attorney Adam Cornell. Mr. Cornell is a Deputy Snohomish County Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute drug cases in federal court.

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