News Release
February 20, 2008
Contact: Jodie Underwood
Number: (206) 553-5443

Leader of Skagit County Drug Ring Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

FEB 20 -- (Seattle) – DEA Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Arnold R. Moorin and the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Jeffrey Sullivan, announced that Roberto Mendez-Sanchez was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Marsha J. Pechman to 20 years imprisonment for seven criminal charges: Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin, Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, Distribution of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute, Distribution of Methamphetamine, and Possession of Methamphetamine with the Intent to Distribute.

In January 2008, Mendez-Sanchez was convicted by a jury following a week-long trial. The conviction was the result of a year-long investigation of a drug trafficking organization operating in Skagit County, Washington. The organization was based in Sinaloa, Mexico, and was responsible for the importation and transportation of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine to the Northwest. Drug proceeds were then bulk cash smuggled into Mexico. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized ten pounds of methamphetamine, five pounds of heroin, and five pounds of cocaine. In addition, law enforcement seized over $100,000 from the organization. On December 1, 2006, agents and officers arrested Mendez-Sanchez and 25 others. To date, 40 subjects have been charged of which 33 have pleaded guilty. Twenty-two have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to ten years and seven remain fugitives of justice.

Mendez-Sanchez had a prior drug conviction and so, by statute, faced a mandatory minimum 20 year prison term. However, Mendez-Sanchez is a Mexican national and likely will be deported following his prison term. At sentencing U.S. District Court Judge Marsha J. Pechman said, “I think it is highly unlikely you will ever be welcome in the United States again.”

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Explosives, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit, the Washington State Patrol, Northwest Regional Drug Task Force, the Skagit County Sheriff’s Department, the Burlington Police Department and the Mount Vernon Police Department. The Anacortes Police Department, Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force, and the Marysville Police Department SWAT unit assisted with the law enforcement activities at the time of the arrests.