Repeat Offender Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Distributing Drugs for a Transnational Drug Trafficking Ring
Defendant has 17 prior convictions – 11 for drug distribution
SEATTLE – A 50-year-old Washington State man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to seven years in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl pills, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Preston Joseph Smith was arrested in December 2021 in Port Angeles, Washington on allegations he distributed pound quantities of illegal drugs. Smith has a 30-year history of drug trafficking crimes. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said, that the drug trafficking organization Smith worked for was trafficking a higher quantity of drugs than most drug trafficking organizations the court has seen.
“This investigation revealed that the drug trafficking organization was distributing large amounts of drugs in the Northeast, Midwest, and the South, as well as in the Western District of Washington,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “I commend our law enforcement partners who shut down a ring aiming to distribute 100 pounds of meth per month in Western Washington.”
According to records filed in the case, law enforcement identified the leaders of the drug trafficking ring as early as February 2020. Smith’s activities as a drug redistributor came into focus in June and July 2021, as he distributed pound quantities of methamphetamine, and hundreds of fentanyl pills. Smith was able to come up with thousands of dollars to pay up front for drugs – in one instance paying $25,000 for a kilo of heroin.
Smith was indicted along with more than a dozen others in the fall of 2021. The drug ring, headed by Jose Alfredo Maldonado-Ramirez and Iris Adrianna Amador-Garcia, distributed drugs widely: in Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized 9 pounds of methamphetamine in a traffic stop on May 16, 2020. Another 30 pounds of meth were seized in a stop on April 2, 2021, and 57 pounds of methamphetamine and 20,000 fentanyl pills were seized in a traffic stop on September 28, 2021. Additionally, on August 17, 2021, law enforcement seized 19 pounds of methamphetamine that conspirators attempted to mail to Fiji.
Smith pleaded guilty in September 2022.
In asking for an eight-year prison sentence, prosecutors wrote to the court, “While the number of people directly and indirectly impacted by Smith’s conduct is difficult to quantify, it is undeniable that the methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl Smith helped spread through our community undoubtedly fell into the hands of long-time addicts, first-time users, and everyone in between. Their lives, and the lives of those around them, will never be the same.”
Judge Coughenour ordered four years of supervised release to follow the prison term.
This case is an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Seattle Field Division (SFD) Tacoma Resident Office (TRO) and Bremerton Police Department (BPD), with assistance from Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement (TNET); the Seattle, Puyallup, Auburn, Federal Way, Kent, Bonney Lake, Tacoma, and Lakewood Police Departments; the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office; Washington State Department of Corrections; Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team (JNET): Centralia and Chehalis Police Departments; Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team (VNET); and Washington State Patrol; Thurston Narcotics Team (TNT), Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, and Mason County Sheriff’s Office; United States Postal Inspections Service (USPIS), Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) with support from Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas ( HIDTA).