Leader of Multi-State Drug Trafficking Group Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison for Distribution of Fentanyl, Meth, and Heroin
Pastillas falsas que contienen fentanilo
Seattle – A 39-year-old Woodinville, Washington, resident was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 108 months in prison, for his role as the leader of a conspiracy to distribute narcotics including fentanyl, meth, and heroin, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Jose Luis Ibarra-Valle has been in custody since his arrest in December 2020. At his sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said, “You introduced large quantities of heroin and fentanyl into this community…drugs that are highly addictive and dangerous.”
“During the investigation, Mr. Ibarra-Valle was heard on the wire-tap talking about getting a firearm so he could go after drug customers who owed him money,” said U.S. Attorney Brown. “And when Mr. Ibarra-Valle learned someone had died from his fentanyl laced pills, he wasn’t worried about selling deadly pills, instead he only complained that the death would cause increased law enforcement scrutiny.”
The investigation began in March 2020 and involved telephone wiretaps beginning in July 2020. The investigation revealed Ibarra-Valle was bringing drugs up from California to Oregon and Western Washington. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized 16,000 fentanyl pills, 30 pounds of methamphetamine, and six pounds of heroin. Ibarra-Valle was stopped by law enforcement in October 2022 with 10,000 fentanyl pills, 20 pounds of methamphetamine, and more than a kilo of heroin.
Five members of the drug trafficking ring have already been convicted and sentenced:
JESUS GUTIERREZ-GARCIA, 33, Everett, WA was sentenced to 78 months in prison.
JESUS GARNICA-MELGOZA, 41, Seattle, WA was sentenced to 42 months in prison.
SANTOS CARO, 37, Portland, Oregon was sentenced to five years in prison.
LEE WALLETTE, 39, Mountlake Terrace, WA was sentenced to six years in prison.
TISHA GIRTZ, 40, Lake Stevens, WA was sentencing to 54 months in prison.
In asking for a ten-year sentence, prosecutors noted the huge increase in overdose deaths. According to the CDC, 107,735 Americans died between August 2021 and August 2022 from drug poisonings, with 66% of those deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF .
The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Whatcom Gang and Drug Task Force, Washington State Patrol, Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force, United States Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake Stevens Police Department and Tulalip Police Department.