Pierce County Based Drug Trafficking Organization Indicted for Distributing Fentanyl, Cocaine, and Marijuana
Ten Defendants, All Under the Age of 30 – Used Social Media to Communicate and Advertise Drug Business
SEATTLE– Ten members of a South Puget Sound drug trafficking organization were indicted following a lengthy investigation that uncovered the trafficking of marijuana to East Coast locales, and the importation and distribution of fentanyl and cocaine in Western Washington. Multiple search warrants were served this morning and eight people were arrested. Seven will appear in U.S. District Court in Tacoma today, and one will appear in U.S. District Court in San Diego today.
“Unfortunately, these defendants were all young- under the age of 30, but the quantity of drugs they were dealing was staggering” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. “They communicated via social media, and they advertised their drugs on social media using codes and emojis. They not only put their lives on a negative path, but they sold dangerous drugs that are harming so many other young people in our community.”
Since the beginning of this investigation in 2022, the Drug Enforcement Administration and partner law enforcement agencies have seized nearly 52 kilos of cocaine, more than 23 kilos of fentanyl pills, and 131 kilos of marijuana. One drug shipment seized by law enforcement contained 37 kilos of cocaine and more than a kilo of fentanyl pills. In June 2023, a traffic stop on Interstate 5 resulted in the seizure of 200,000 fentanyl pills that had been hidden in the vehicle.
“These defendants are accused of trafficking over 150,000 lethal doses of fentanyl to communities in Western Washington and beyond,” said David F. Reames, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division. “This poison will never reach its potential victims because of the cooperation between DEA and our law enforcement partners in this investigation.”
Those arrested today for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances include:
Joel Adrian Valencia Rosas, 27, of Lakewood, Washington
Scott Bud Burrows, Jr., 26, of Spanaway, Washington
Jesus Emmanuel Cardenas Gonzalez, 22, of Chula Vista, CA
Silias Kapone Hale, 19, of Federal Way, Washington
Ronnie Kendrick, 24, of Lakewood, Washington
Alyson Marie Pyles, 20, of Port Orchard, Washington
KeShaun Marcus Tremper, 18, of Federal Way, Washington
Corey Earl Huff, 39, of Lakewood, Washington, was arrested today for the unlawful possession of a firearm.
“This operation will make a sizable dent in the drug trade over multiple states,” said ATF Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “In addition, the participants’ use of firearms as part of this scheme makes these actions even more dangerous to our communities.”
“Illegal drugs continue to have horrific effects on our communities,” said Bonney Lake Police Chief Mark Berry. “Collaborative investigations partnering federal and local law enforcement agencies are a crucial element in reducing the flow of illegal narcotics into our community.”
“Fentanyl is impacting communities all across the country, including here in Lakewood,” said Assistant Chief John Unfred, Lakewood Police Department. “It is for this reason we have partnered with the DEA on this investigation. We hope that this operation will make a big impact in the distribution of this deadly drug. We look forward to continuing this positive working relationship and assisting with cases of this magnitude that impact Western Washington.”
Due to the quantity of drugs involved in this case, some defendants face mandatory minimum ten-year prison terms.
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.
This prosecution 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 led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) IRS- Criminal Investigations, TNET (Tacoma Narcotics Enforcement Team), TNT (Thurston Narcotics Task Force), Lakewood PD, Puyallup PD, Bonney Lake PD, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Tacoma PD, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, and Metro Cities SWAT.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Marci L. Ellsworth and Crystal Correa.