TACOMA, WASH. – On August 3, 2011, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration with the assistance of the Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force seized over 16 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and executed multiple search warrants in Vancouver, Wash. Ricardo Estrada, 43, of Vancouver, Wash., and Francisco Cervantes, 47, of Vancouver, Wash., were arrested and appeared today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. Estrada was charged by complaint with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and carrying/possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. Cervantes was charged by complaint with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
“Mr. Estrada clearly disregards the law by peddling his poison and perpetuating violence,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes. “The defendants arrested will learn a valuable lesson: Their predatory greed has put them in a place they justly deserve.”
According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court, in May 2011, Estrada provided a sample of methamphetamine to law enforcement. Between June and July 2011, Estrada sold nearly one pound of crystal methamphetamine and a .45 caliber handgun to law enforcement. On August 3, 2011, Estrada arranged a meeting to deliver seven pounds of methamphetamine in Vancouver, Wash. Subsequently, surveillance observed Estrada and Cervantes depart a residence in a van that Estrada stated contained additional methamphetamine destined for another drug customer. A traffic stop was conducted at exit 72, Northbound I-5 where both men were arrested. Inside the van a concealed compartment was located that contained over 16 pounds of crystal methamphetamine.
“These arrests are a significant blow to a large-scale drug trafficking organization operating in Clark County,” said Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force Commander Mike Cooke. “This has been a long investigation and we're happy to see it come to a successful conclusion."
The charge of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine carries a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison and a fine up to $10 million. The charge of carrying/possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime carries a mandatory penalty of five years imprisonment which must run consecutive to the term of imprisonment imposed for the conspiracy offense. Consequently, Estrada now faces a penalty of a 15 year mandatory prison sentence.
This investigation was conducted by the following agencies: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement Team, which is comprised of Bureau of Indian Affairs, Homeland Security Investigations, Washington State Patrol, Washington Department of Corrections, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tacoma, Puyallup, Bonney Lake, and Auburn Police Departments; Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force, which is comprised of Vancouver Police Department, Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Skamania County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol and Washington Department of Corrections.
Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.