Two Key Players in Arlington, Washington, Drug Ring Sentenced to Prison
One Acted as Drug Broker and Debt Collector, the Other a Long-Time Drug Distributor
SEATTLE – Two men who served key roles in a large, wide ranging drug distribution conspiracy were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to significant prison terms, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Aaron Alarcon-Castaneda (aka Sobrino), 38, of Chino, California was sentenced to six years in prison and Steven R. Delvecchio, 65, of Snohomish, Washington was sentenced to nine years in prison. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said he imposed these sentences due to, “the enormous size of this drug trafficking organization, the large quantity of the two worst drugs I’ve seen in my 40 years on the bench: methamphetamine and fentanyl, and the existence of firearms.”
“While each of these men played a different role, such conduct was integral to spreading poison throughout our community,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. “Del Vecchio was the retail salesman, getting drugs into the hands of users, while Alarcon-Castaneda was the broker and money collector – coordinating the shipments of drugs and money to and from Western Washington. For the pain and addiction they caused, they have earned these significant prison sentences.”
According to records filed in the case, the investigation and drug ring take down on December 16, 2020, resulted in the seizure of 143 pounds of methamphetamine, 15 pounds of heroin, 35,000 fentanyl pills, 24 firearms, and $778,000. Drug ring leader Cesar Valdez-Sanudo, 36, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in January 2023. Valdez-Sanudo had buried large quantities of drugs and cash on his Arlington, Washington property. The drug ring distributed meth, heroin, and fentanyl in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.
Alarcon-Castaneda was identified on the wiretap investigation shortly after he brokered a 44-pound shipment of methamphetamine from California to Washington. After law enforcement seized the load, Alarcon-Casteneda was heard on the wiretap discussing a plan to interrogate the courier who lost the load. During the conversation the drug ring leader told Alarcon-Castaneda to use the cables, meaning electrocute the courier. Law enforcement had to intervene to make sure that didn’t happen. Alarcon-Castaneda arranged for drugs and money to move up and down the west coast. When Alarcon-Castaneda’s home was searched, law enforcement found drugs hidden in everything from laundry soap bottles to the kitchen garbage can. He also had large quantities of cash drug proceeds.
Steven Del Vecchio is a ten-time convicted felon and long-time drug dealer in Snohomish County. Del Vecchio was originally a subject of an investigation by the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force. On June 24, 2020, he was arrested, and a search of his home revealed more than two kilograms of methamphetamine, close to one kilogram of heroin, thousands of fentanyl pills, $115,000 in cash drug proceeds, and 19 firearms. That arrest and seizure didn’t stop him and, on the wiretap, he was identified as a dealer in the Valdez-Sanudo drug trafficking ring. When Del Vecchio was arrested on December 16, 2020, investigators recovered nearly a kilogram of methamphetamine, several ounces of heroin, and more than a thousand fentanyl pills.
In asking for the eight and ten year sentences respectively, prosecutors told the court, “These drugs not only destroy the lives of those who use them, they also destroy the lives of the users’ families and friends. Those families and friends are prisoners, forced to watch the toll these drugs take on their son, their daughter, their mother, their father, their friend.”
This case is part of 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 conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Tacoma Residence Office in partnership with Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement Team (TNET), Kent Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, SeaTac Police Department, Tacoma Police Department, Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force (SRDTF), the Skagit County Sheriff's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).