SEATTLE - Fifteen people were arrested on Tuesday throughout the Puget Sound region and in California following an 18-month investigation of a drug trafficking organization tied to the CJNG cartel in Mexico, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.
“This cartel is known as a violent and prolific drug trafficking group. I commend the DEA-led task force for taking a bite out of its drug distribution and money laundering networks,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran. “Over the course of this investigation law enforcement seized more than 100 pounds of methamphetamine and ten pounds of heroin, and agents and officers continued their work despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“What's important about this morning's operation is that you have a large group of poly drug traffickers who are violent in nature. With the removal of them, the streets of the South Sound are much safer, 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.”
Firearm seized during investigation. Photo provided by DEA.
“The results of this operation are a clear example of what can be achieved through HSI’s partnership with state, local and federal law enforcement agencies,” said Eben Roberts, acting special agent in charge HSI Seattle. "I commend all of the agents, officers and analysts involved in this operation. Their dedication resulted in the removal of massive amounts of narcotics from our community, the disruption of an extremely dangerous supply chain and undoubtedly saved numerous lives.”
The defendants arrested today made their initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The indictment charges conspiracy, possession, attempted possession and distribution of methamphetamine and heroin, as well as a money laundering conspiracy.
These are the nineteen defendants named in the grand jury indictment:
Alan GOMEZ MARENTES; 35, Los Angeles, California, and Tukwila, Washington
Juan Antonio GONZALEZ CARRILLO; 31, Gardena, California
Luis MAGANA RAMIREZ; 32, Fife, Washington
Jose Elias BARBOSA CEBALLOS; 35, Port Orchard, Washington
Jose Daniel ESPINOZA; 33, Renton, Washington
Estefhany COREA MENDOZA; 27, Burien, Washington
Adrian IZAZAGA MARTINEZ; 29, Kent, Washington
Jorge MONDRAGON; 24, Kent, Washington
Benjamin FUENTES; 28, Renton, Washington
Luis ZAVALZA SANCHEZ; 31, Seattle, Washington
Alysha Marie JONES; 27, Shelton, Washington
Armando FIERRO PONCE; 26, Renton, Washington
Amanda MEYER; 35, Kent, Washington
Michael WOOD; 45, Port Orchard, Washington
Luis CASTILLO BARRAGAN; 32, Kent, Washington
Efrain LUNA RODRIGUEZ; 21, Maywood, California
Julian PINEDA CASILLAS; 33, Victorville, California
Blanca MEDINA; 36, Los Angeles, California, and Tukwila, Washington
Ruth GOMEZ MARENTES; 34, Kent, Washington
In all, fifteen search warrants were served in the Puget Sound region, and four served on Tuesday in California. Today alone, agents seized twenty pounds of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, 200 fentanyl pills, nine firearms, and more than $250,000 in cash.
Previously during the investigation, law enforcement seized more than 100 pounds of meth, various quantities of cocaine, heroin, 1500 fentanyl pills, and six firearms.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Tacoma Resident Office in partnership with Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement Team (TNET), Kent Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, SeaTac Police Department, Thurston County Narcotics Team (TNT), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). In addition, to the agencies listed above, these law enforcement agencies assisted in the investigation and/or with arrests and search warrants executed today: DEA Seattle Special Response Team, Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team, Valley SWAT, Pierce County SWAT, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team, Bremerton Special Operations Group, King County SWAT, King County Sheriff’s Office Metro, Burien Police Department, Auburn Special Investigations Unit, FBI Seattle, FBI SWAT, FBI Portland Tactical and TNET, which is comprised of Tacoma, Lakewood, Auburn, Kent, Bonney Lake and Puyallup Police Departments, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Department of Corrections. The investigation was supported by the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).