FBI SAYS DRUG TRAFFICKERS WITH TIES TO CARTEL IN CALIFORNIA
Were using cedar shingle mill in Grays Harbor County as a cover for drug operation
June 15, 2012
(GRAYS HARBOR, WA) -- A Drug Enforcement Administration-led task force executed six federal search warrants in Grays Harbor County on the morning of June 13 as part of the culmination of a lengthy investigation of methamphetamine trafficking in Southwest Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan in a statement.
DEA photos. Inside this tire drug agents found several bags of meth they said were connected to the Grays Harbor drug bust involving the cedar shingle mill. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Federal agents arrested seven people.
The alleged leader of the drug smuggling organization, Jose Naur Sanchez, 34, of Amanda Park, Washington, allegedly sought to disguise his trafficking activity with the operation of a cedar shingle mill.
Prosecutors allege the meth distribution ring operated on both state and tribal lands of the Quinault Indian Nation.
Two other members of the smuggling ring were arrested and indicted following their arrest in May 2012, with six kilograms of methamphetamine hidden in the spare tire of their car.
Israel Magana Espinoza, 36, Neilton, Washington, and Cristian Calles, 28, of Aberdeen, Washington, were tracked to a drug lab in Stockton, California, and were arrested by police on their return trip to Washington.
When law enforcement raided the Stockton drug lab, they seized more than 66 pounds of crystal meth, 88 pounds of liquid slush methamphetamine, and disassembled assault rifles packaged for transport to Mexico.
“These defendants, who have ties to Mexican cartels, wrongly thought they could hide their drug activity in a rural area and on tribal land,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “I congratulate the Quinault Nation Narcotics Enforcement Team and Grays Harbor Drug Task Force, who were key partners with federal law enforcement in putting a stop to this drug distribution in their community.”
“The Quinault Indian Nation will not tolerate any drug activity on its reservation, and we will do all that is necessary to combat it,” said Quinault President Fawn Sharp. “Drug traffickers and all other criminals will make a terrible mistake if they consider any part of our reservation easy target for their misdeeds.”
When executing the federal search warrants on June 13 in Grays Harbor federal drug agents found liquid methamphetamine that was similar to the liquid methamphetamine seized at the liquid meth conversion lab in Stockton, California.
Investigators also seized several firearms and nearly three pounds of black tar heroin.
The leader in the alleged local drug organization and owner of the cedar mill, Jose Naur Sanchez, made his first appearances in U.S. District Court in Tacoma Thursday afternoon.
He is charged by indictment with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Israel Magana Espinoza and Cristian Calles are charged by indictment with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.
Because of the large drug quantities involved, if convicted the men face a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison and up to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000,000.
To date, federal agents have arrested 17 persons tied to this alleged drug cartel.