Seattle – Eight people are indicted today in a wide-ranging drug investigation that resulted in the seizure of significant quantities of suspected fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. JOSE LUIS IBARRA-VALLE, 37, a citizen of Mexico who was living in Woodinville, Washington, was stopped by law enforcement on October 25, 2020, in Seattle. In his car authorities found approximately 10,000 pills believed to contain fentanyl, more than 20 pounds of suspected methamphetamine, and more than a kilogram of suspected heroin. All those arrested today appeared in U.S. District Court in Seattle today.
“While COVID-19 may have shut down many of our businesses, it does not seem to have put a dent in the illegal drug distribution business, causing harm to our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. “I commend the law enforcement officers who continue to do the work of tracking and seizing these illegal drugs—especially fentanyl pills—that are connected with overdose deaths in our community.”
“The rising numbers of fentanyl overdoses is on the radar of all our law enforcement partners,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis. “We will continue to prioritize disrupting the illicit distribution of this dangerous narcotic within our communities.”
The additional defendants indicted in this wiretap investigation include:
JESUS GUTIERREZ-GARCIA, 31, Everett, Washington
JESUS GARNICA-MELGOZA, 39, Seattle, Washington
HUMBERTO GARCIA, 39, Everett, Washington
SANTOS CARO, 35, Portland, Oregon
CHARLES HOFFMAN, 43, Tulalip, Washington
LEE WALLETTE, 36, Mountlake Terrace, Washington
TISHA GIRTZ, 38, Lake Stevens, Washington
Over the course of the investigation law enforcement seized 16,000 suspected fentanyl pills, 30 pounds of suspected methamphetamine, and six pounds of suspected heroin.
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 case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF .
The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Whatcom Gang and Drug Task Force, Washington State Patrol, Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force, United States Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake Stevens Police Department and Tulalip Police Department. In addition to the agencies listed above, the following law enforcement agencies assisted with arrests and search warrants executed today: Everett ACT, North Sound SWAT, FBI SWAT and DEA Portland. The investigation was supported by the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Benjamin Diggs and Nicholas Manheim.