Renton Man Faces More Than a Decade in Prison for Leading Drug Ring Linked to "La Familia" Cartel
FEB 5 --(Seattle) –– DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Thomas and the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Jenny Durkan announced that on February 4, 2010 Arturo J. Barajas-Garcia pleaded guilty to the crime of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. In October 2009, Barajas-Garcia was arrested as part of nationwide crackdown dubbed “Project Coronado”. A total of 20 people were charged in federal court in the Western District of Washington in a conspiracy to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine in connection with the “La Familia” drug cartel. Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 13 to 17 years in prison when sentenced on May 14, 2010.
The investigation began in December 2008 and linked the distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine to the cartel based in Michoacan, Mexico. On October 21, 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) led task force searched 19 residences and 22 vehicles in Washington and California, and seized 28 pounds of methamphetamine, 11 kilos of cocaine, seven guns, and an estimated $230,000 in cash.
In his plea agreement, Barajas-Garcia admitted he conspired with others to arrange the importation and distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine from other parts of the U.S. and Mexico. Barajas-Garcia admitted he managed the local storage and distribution of the drugs.
Many of the cars associated with the drug organization were equipped with secret compartments used to carry drugs from suppliers in the south. Those same hidden compartments were used to transport money back to the source of supply. Of the eleven vehicles seized in the case, at least three had secret compartments.
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.