News Release
August 14, 2009
Contact: Jodie Underwood
Number: (206) 553-5443

Skagit County Men Sentenced to Long Prison Terms
Organization Distributed Kilo Quantities of Cocaine and Heroin

AUG 14-- (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 three members of a Skagit County drug trafficking organization were sentenced today in U.S District Court. In all, sixteen members of the organization were arrested on January 15, 2009, following a yearlong investigation for their involvement in a drug distribution conspiracy. The organization was responsible for smuggling five to ten kilograms of cocaine and pound quantities of heroin per month into the United States from Mexico.

Alfonzo Gutierrez-Orozco, 26, of Mount Vernon, Washington, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour to 10 years in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute heroin. As a Mexican national, Gutierrez-Orozco will likely be deported following his prison term.

Fernando Hernandez-Salazar, 21, of Mount Vernon, Washington was also sentenced to ten years in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute heroin. Joel Vasquez-Vasquez, 22, of Mount Vernon, Washington was sentenced to three years in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. As Mexican Nationals, both face deportation following their prison terms.

When officers executed search warrants on five residences in January 2009, they seized approximately five pounds of heroin, two pounds of cocaine and seized $35,000 in cash, seven vehicles and two firearms. The investigation utilized court approved wire-taps, and confidential informants to infiltrate the drug ring as it recruited people to transport cocaine from Tijuana, Baja, California, Mexico into the United States.

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), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit (SCIDEU), which consists of officers from the Washington State Patrol (WSP), Skagit County Sheriff’s Office and Anacortes Police Department. These additional agencies assisted with the arrests and searches: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Mount Vernon Police Department, the National Guard, the Bellingham Police Department, and the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force (NWRDTF).