News Release
Date: March 27, 2012
Contact: Jodie Underwood
Number: (206) 553-1162

Leaders of Major International Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced
--Smuggled thousands of pounds of marijuana, hundreds of kilos of cocaine every month--

MAR 27 - (Seattle, WA) – Three defendants who played key roles in a multi-national drug trafficking ring were sentenced to prison March 23, 2012, in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The three, a California couple and a Marysville, Washington resident, directed the distribution of drugs and money for more than five years. Jacob Burdick, 34, of Marysville, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and five years of supervised release. Michael Murphy, 62, and Pamela Marie Murphy, 58, of Penn Valley, California, were sentenced to 12 years in prison and 18 months in prison respectively.

“The message is clear and simple - engage in drug trafficking and you will reap the punishment of prison,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes. “This organization engaged in money laundering and the smuggling of marijuana and cocaine across two international borders, which shows that their greed has no limit. This investigation has brought to justice members of this organization, as well as targeted and seized assets illegally acquired, such as aircraft and a tractor trailer.” 

The investigation into the international drug trafficking group began in May 2010. Using court authorized wire taps, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) determined the drug organization was transporting and distributing 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of marijuana and 100 to 200 kilos of cocaine every month. The marijuana was smuggled into the U.S. from Canada and distributed across the country to California, Illinois, Missouri, Georgia and New Jersey among other locations. Proceeds from the marijuana distribution were used to purchase cocaine in Southern California. The cocaine was transported to British Columbia for distribution. The smuggling organization had ties to members of the Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle gang in British Columbia, Canada. 

Burdick ran the Kent, Washington warehouse where marijuana was unloaded from secret compartments in semi-trucks and sorted for transport to further destinations. Burdick helped supervise the drivers who drove the trucks full of marijuana across the border from Canada and hired and supervised the workers who unloaded the drugs at the warehouse. Burdick kept ledgers based on a color coded system of the drugs’ ultimate destination.

Michael Murphy served as the chief pilot for the drug smuggling scheme flying marijuana and cash across the country, and hiring other pilots to fly the drugs. Many of the flights originated at Thun Field in Puyallup, Washington destined for Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, New Jersey, and other states. Murphy would collect the cash and return to California, where it was used to purchase cocaine. Murphy recruited his wife to assist with laundering the drug proceeds. Pamela Murphy counted the cash that her husband later delivered to co-conspirators in Southern California. Murphy also laundered cash through her family members by setting up an antiques business. When the Murphy home was searched in April 2011, agents found $315,000 in cash- some of it bundled and sitting on the kitchen counter.

Over the course of the investigation investigators seized more than $2 million and 136 kilograms of cocaine. On April 28, 2011, the day search warrants were executed, investigators seized more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana from locations across the country. 

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 DEA Offices- Seattle, Chicago, Las Vegas, Fresno, Los Angeles, and New Jersey; ICE Homeland Security Investigations- Seattle and Sacramento; Customs and Border Protection- Office of Air & Marine; King County Sheriff’s Department; Seattle Police Department; Washington State Patrol; Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force; and the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement (California).