Leader of Drug Distribution Organization Sentenced to Ten Years
Organized Shipments of Fentanyl, Heroin, Meth, and Cocaine from Arizona and Southern California
SEATTLE – The drug supplier to multiple members of a drug trafficking group distributing fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine throughout the Puget Sound region was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to ten years in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.
Rodrigo Alvarez-Quinonez, 31, of Selma, California, was convicted following a jury trial in June 2022. Alvarez-Quinonez, was one of twelve people arrested in August 2020 following a year-long wiretap investigation. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said: “The defendant was at the top of a large-scale conspiracy to distribute illegal, dangerous, and deadly drugs in the Western District of Washington. One would have to be living under a rock to not know the impact that fentanyl is having on our society, given that deaths from fentanyl have skyrocketed.”
“This investigation emphasizes the mission of the DEA: to ensure the safety and health of American communities by combatting criminal drug networks like the one Mr. Alvarez-Quinonez controlled,“ said Jacob D. Galvan, Acting Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division. “We will relentlessly pursue individuals and organizations like this with our local, state, and federal partners.”
“Mr. Alvarez-Quinonez was ordering up large drug shipments for distribution in our community,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “His control of large amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine make his activities dangerous for those sickened with addiction and for their loved ones. This case should serve as an example that under federal law, those working with drug cartels will face significant prison sentences.”
The members of the conspiracies engaged in trafficking activities from Mexico, through California, Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon, and into the North Puget Sound region. Alvarez-Quinonez was heard on wiretaps directing others to pick-up and deliver drugs. In January 2020 Alverez-Quinonez was arrested when he was stopped in Lewis County a car with nearly 2 kilos of fentanyl hidden in a secret compartment.
In recommending a lengthy prison sentence, prosecutors wrote to the court, “Alvarez-Quinonez was working as a narcotics source-of-supply, he directed others to pick up and deliver shipments of narcotics, he purchased narcotics in bulk and transported narcotics to this State. Alvarez-Quinonez then fulfilled orders for others who wanted narcotics and at times directed others to deliver narcotics on his behalf.”
In addition to the fentanyl pills, during the investigation law enforcement seized more than six pounds of heroin and nearly nine pounds of methamphetamine.
On the day of the takedown in August 2020, law enforcement seized: nearly 6 pounds of methamphetamine, 8 pounds of heroin, 7,500 pills likely tainted with fentanyl, over $100,000 in cash, 4 firearms, and vehicles outfitted with “traps”—hiding places for smuggling drugs and money.
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 https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations, Shoreline Police Department, King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), Seattle Police Department and the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force (SRDTF). The investigation was supported by the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Hobbs.