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Contraband
03/22/2010

Washington man sentenced to 16 years in Ecstasy case

SEATTLE - A Pierce County, Wash., man with two prior drug convictions was sentenced today to 16 years in federal prison and six years of supervised release on charges of conspiracy to distribute Ecstasy, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Warren Taylor, 29, of University Place, Wash., was convicted of the charges in November 2009 by a federal jury. He was arrested in June 2008 after being identified as a major player in a drug import scheme that smuggled Ecstasy into the United States from Canada.

According to records in the case and testimony at trial, one of Taylor's co-conspirators, Hon Chak Gordon Sin, was arrested in January 2007 for selling more than 100,000 Ecstasy pills in Seattle. When ICE agents searched Sin's apartment, they found 109,000 Ecstasy pills, three kilograms of cocaine, $81,000 in cash and two ledgers detailing Sin's drug smuggling transactions.

The ledgers identified Taylor as a key player in the drug conspiracy, showing that he was responsible for the sale of over 700,000 pills. Because of Taylor's two prior drug convictions, he recruited others to assist in the distribution of the tablets in hopes of avoiding detection by law enforcement.

Cellular phone records obtained by ICE proved that Taylor had made thousands of phone calls to his co-defendants while the drug conspiracy was ongoing. In March 2007, after the initial arrests in this case were made, the calls abruptly stopped.

"Drug smuggling is a serious crime that is motivated by complete disregard for the law," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations. "Today's sentence further strengthens ICE's resolve to attack and dismantle these criminal schemes."

In asking for a lengthy prison sentence, prosecutors wrote to the court that "Taylor was the glue that held the entire conspiracy together…it was Taylor who personally brokered the drug deals and it was Taylor who coordinated the Ecstasy purchases and pickups. In short, there would have been no conspiracy without Taylor."

U.S. District Court Judge James L. Robart said that he found the evidence from the drug ledger and telephone records, which showed Taylor contacted his co-conspirators up to 30 times a day, very persuasive. Noting the defendant's two prior drug distribution convictions, Judge Robart said these "encounters with the criminal justice system did not stop him from engaging in this behavior."

Sin was sentenced in December 2009 to five years in federal prison for distribution of Ecstasy. Another co-conspirator in this case, Ronald Banks, was sentenced on similar charges early last month to eight years in federal prison.