Drug Enforcement Administration


Keith R. Weis, Special Agent in Charge

August 06, 2015

Contact: Jodie Underwood

Phone Number: (206) 553-1162

Seventeen Arrested In Connection With Lengthy Heroin & Meth Investigation

DEA seeking information on the whereabouts of five subjects at large

These five subjects below  remain at large
These five subjects below remain at large

SEATTLE - -A lengthy drug trafficking investigation of a criminal group with ties to California and Mexico has resulted in seventeen arrests and the seizure of pound quantities of methamphetamine and heroin.  Over the last 36 hours, teams of local, state and federal law enforcement agents searched 20 locations across the Puget Sound region in the culmination of an 18 month investigation involving court authorized wire-taps and extensive surveillance of members of the criminal group.  Some of those arrested made their initial appearances on the indictments yesterday in U.S. District Court in Seattle. One additional defendant appeared at 2:00 today.

“In this investigation, assault rifles, handguns and large quantities of heroin and methamphetamine were seized,” stated Acting Special Agent in Charge Douglas James.  “The combination of deadly drugs and weaponry is of great concern.  DEA will continue to work with our partners to attack the crime and violence perpetuated by drug trafficking organizations who endanger our communities.”

Beginning early yesterday morning, federal state and local law enforcement officers served search warrants on 17 residences, three storage facilities and more than a dozen vehicles tied to the criminal group.  Search warrants were executed in: Auburn, Bellevue, SeaTac, Seattle, Tukwila, Renton, Kent, Port Orchard, and Everett, Washington.  An indictment and criminal complaints have been filed charging 22 defendants with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances including methamphetamine and heroin.  Some of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. During the course of the investigation law enforcement seized more than 29 pounds of meth, more than 18 pounds of heroin, six pounds of cocaine, approximately $178,000 in cash and 16 firearms, including five assault rifles.

        Those arrested include:

VERONICA ACEVES SANTILLANO, 28, of Renton, Washington
EDIBERTO ASEVEZ SANTILLANO, 36, of Renton, Washington
BRIAN CHRISTENSEN, 39, of Port Orchard, Washington
WILL EDWARD BRAMBILA, 26, of Kent, Washington
SANDRO CRIOLLO, 22, of Seattle
FRANCISCO FLORES PENUELAS, 43, of Kent, Washington
JOSE GONZALEZ MEDINA, 35, of Everett, Washington
EDUARDO GUZMAN VALENZUELA, 23, of Kent, Washington
MARICARMEN HERNANDEZ, 34, of Renton, Washington
HANZEL KNIGHT, 42, of Auburn, Washington
HERIBERTO PACHECO JUAREZ, 22, of Kent, Washington
RUBEN RODRIGUEZ RODRIGUEZ, 23, of Renton, Washington
RICARDO TOPETE, 24, of Seattle
RAMON ZAVALA ZAZUETA, 44, of Kent, Washington
JESUS GASTELUM-PAYAN, 20, of Kent, Washington
ALFONSO LEOS VILLASENOR, 20, of Kent, Washington

The five subjects below remain at large. The Drug Enforcement (DEA) is seeking assistance from the public regarding their whereabouts.            

Information can be sent anonymously to DEA via text messaging by texting, (847411) and beginning your message with TIPDEA. 

Due to the drug quantities involved, some of the defendants face mandatory minimum sentences of ten years in prison.  The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  All of the defendants appearing on indictments yesterday entered pleas of “not guilty.”  Trial was set for September 28, 2015 in front of Chief U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.  The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the Seattle Police Department.  The searches and arrests involved agents and officers from: Homeland Security Investigations - Seattle, Port of Seattle Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, Snohomish Regional Drug And Gang Task Force, King County Sheriff’s Office, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Lynnwood Police Department, Kent Police Department, Renton Police Department, Auburn Police Department, Tukwila Police Department, Federal Way Police Department, and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

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