Leader of International Drug Trafficking Organization and His Trusted Lieutenant Plead Guilty to Federal Charges
Each Face Long Sentence for Drug Dealing with Threats of Violence and Illegal Firearms Possession
SEATTLE – A top leader of a violent international drug trafficking organization that distributed heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine in the Puget Sound region, pleaded guilty this week in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Luis Arturo Magana-Ramirez, 34, of Fife, Washington, faces a mandatory minimum ten years in prison and up to life in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour on November 1, 2022.
In his plea agreement, Magana-Ramirez admits he led a transnational drug trafficking organization. Law enforcement has linked the organization to the CJNG cartel in Mexico. Magana-Ramirez was responsible for bringing large amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl into western Washington. Magana-Ramirez also pursued those who owed drug debts to the organization. At various times on the wiretap, federal law enforcement heard Magana-Ramirez threatening to beat or murder those who owed the organization money. In at least one instance, law enforcement moved in to protect a target of Magana-Ramirez’ threats of violence.
When Magana-Ramirez was arrested on July 28, 2020, he possessed two firearms – one of them had been reported stolen and the other had an obliterated serial number. Magana-Ramirez could not legally possess firearms as he is a Mexican national who is illegally present in the U.S. Possession of firearms by an illegal alien is punishable by up to ten years in prison. In all, this drug ring was responsible for bringing more than 120 pounds of meth into the region as well as heroin, fentanyl pills and cocaine.
Prosecutors have agreed to recommend no more than 17 years in prison when Magana-Ramirez is sentenced in November.
Also this week, one of Magana-Ramirez trusted lieutenants also pleaded guilty. Jorge Mondragon, 26, of Kent, also faces a mandatory minimum ten years in prison due to the amount of heroin and methamphetamine he trafficked as part of the organization. He, too, illegally possessed firearms. Mondragon is prohibited from possessing firearms due to his two 2018 felony convictions in King County Superior Court for unlawfully possessing firearms.
According to the plea agreement, Mondragon was one of the conspirators involved in threatened violence over drug debts. During the investigation, Mondragon also threatened to leave one target needing a wheelchair and law enforcement had to intervene. On July 16, 2020, in Kent, Mondragon jumped from an embankment and ran from police. He attempted to hide a stolen firearm that he had in his possession. When investigators served a search warrant at Mondragon’s residence, they found another firearm and ammunition. At Mondragon’s storage locker they located additional ammunition.
Prosecutors have agreed to recommend no more than 11 years in prison for Mondragon when he is sentenced by Judge Coughenour on October 25, 2022. However, Judge Coughenour is not bound by either of the recommendations for these defendants, and can sentence the defendants up to the maximum of life in prison.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Tacoma Resident Office in partnership with Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement Team (TNET), Kent Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, SeaTac Police Department, Thurston County Narcotics Team (TNT), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
This effort 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 www.justice.gov/OCDETF