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Narcotics
07/28/2020

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19 indicted in cartel-connected drug-trafficking conspiracy

Organization tied to CJNG cartel smuggled and distributed meth and heroin

SEATTLE — Fifteen people were arrested today throughout the Puget Sound region and in California following an 18-month investigation of a drug-trafficking organization tied to the CJNG cartel in Mexico, announced U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) acting Special Agent in Charge in Seattle Eben Roberts and U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. The defendants arrested today made their initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

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

“This cartel is known as a violent and prolific drug trafficking group. I commend the DEA-led task force for taking a bite out of its drug distribution and money laundering networks,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran.“Over the course of this investigation law enforcement seized more than 100 pounds of methamphetamine and 10 pounds of heroin, and agents and officers continued their work despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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

The indictment charges conspiracy, possession, attempted possession and distribution of methamphetamine and heroin, as well as a money laundering conspiracy. These are the 19 defendants named in the grand jury indictment:

  • Alan GOMEZ MARENTES; 35, Los Angeles, California, and Tukwila, Washington
  • Juan Antonio GONZALEZ CARRILLO; 31, Gardena, California
  • Luis MAGANA RAMIREZ; 32, Fife, Washington
  • Jose Elias BARBOSA CEBALLOS; 35, Port Orchard, Washington
  • Jose Daniel ESPINOZA; 33, Renton, Washington
  • Estefhany COREA MENDOZA; 27, Burien, Washington
  • Adrian IZAZAGA MARTINEZ; 29, Kent, Washington
  • Jorge MONDRAGON; 24, Kent, Washington
  • Benjamin FUENTES; 28, Renton, Washington
  • Luis ZAVALZA SANCHEZ; 31, Seattle, Washington
  • Alysha Marie JONES; 27, Shelton, Washington
  • Armando FIERRO PONCE; 26, Renton, Washington
  • Amanda MEYER; 35, Kent, Washington
  • Michael WOOD; 45, Port Orchard, Washington
  • Luis CASTILLO BARRAGAN; 32, Kent, Washington
  • Efrain LUNA RODRIGUEZ; 21, Maywood, California
  • Julian PINEDA CASILLAS; 33, Victorville, California
  • Blanca MEDINA; 36, Los Angeles, California, and Tukwila, Washington
  • Ruth GOMEZ MARENTES; 34, Kent, Washington

In all, 15 search warrants were served in the Puget Sound region, and four were served today in California. Today alone, agents seized 20 pounds of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, 200 fentanyl pills, nine firearms, and more than $250,000 in cash. Previously, during the investigation, law enforcement seized more than 100 pounds of meth, various quantities of cocaine, heroin, 1,500 fentanyl pills, and six firearms.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.

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

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

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 07/30/2020