Lynnwood, Washington, couple connected to massive fentanyl seizure charged with drug and gun crimes in federal court | USAO-WDWA

(Seattle) — A Lynnwood, Washington, couple arrested in late July on Snohomish County drug possession charges is now charged federally following a lengthy undercover investigation, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  JOSE L. CASABLANCA, 38, and JESSIE N. CRUZ, 37, are charged by a federal criminal complaint which details a lengthy undercover investigation which began in March 2020.  The pair made their initial appearance on the complaint today.

The criminal complaint details how two detectives with the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force (SRDTF) posed as drug and gun buyers to gather information about the pair’s drug trafficking activity.  The undercover detectives made purchases of heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl pills from CASABLANCA and CRUZ.  They also purchased a fully automatic firearm, judged an illegal machine gun, and other firearms from the pair.  CASABLANCA is a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing firearms, so the two discussed how CRUZ transported the guns to the sale location so that CASABLANCA would not be caught with a firearm.

CRUZ and CASABLANCA confided to the undercover detectives where they had hidden a massive amount of fentanyl in their Lynnwood home.  On the day they were arrested at a regional airport, they met with yet another undercover officer who was posing as someone who could get them access to a pill press to make fentanyl tainted pills from their large stash of the potentially deadly drug.  A court-authorized search warrant at the Lynnwood home resulted in the seizure of large amounts of heroin, fentanyl, multiple firearms, and ammunition, as well as body armor.

At the time of their arrest law enforcement searched the Maserati the couple used in their drug trafficking activities and found both narcotics and a firearm.

CASABLANCA is charged with two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms due to his prior convictions for robbery and burglary (Snohomish County 2006) and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (Snohomish County 2011).  CASABLANCA and CRUZ are both charged with three additional federal felonies: possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute; possession of heroin with intent to distribute; and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  

Being a felon in possession of a firearm is punishable by up to five years in prison.  Given the drug quantities, the drug counts are punishable by a mandatory minimum five years in prison.  The use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime results in an additional five-year sentence to run consecutive to the drug trafficking term.

The charges contained in the complaint 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.

The case is being investigated by the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force and the United States Marshals Service Violent Offender Task Force, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kate Crisham.

casablanca_and_cruz_complaint.pdf

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