Skagit County, WA – A six-month investigation of significant heroin and methamphetamine trafficking in the Puget Sound area, including Skagit and Snohomish Counties, ended today after thirty search warrants were served and eleven federal arrests were made, announced U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes.
The local leader of the drug trafficking ring, 40-year old JOSE VERDUZCO URIAS of Sedro-Woolley, was arrested with seven other defendants named in the ten-person indictment. Three additional people were arrested and charged by federal criminal complaint. Additionally, a dozen people were arrested on state and local charges. Those arrested on the federal charges appeared in U.S. District Court in Seattle at 2;00 p.m. today.
“The people we charged today were moving up to 2 kilos of heroin a week into our neighborhoods, feeding addictions whose terrible impacts we see all around us,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “They distributed in urban centers, small towns, and tribal communities, demonstrating yet again the sad fact that no place is immune from the scourge of opioid addiction.”
The leader of the group, Jose VERDUZCO URIAS has ties with the Mexican Cartel and has homes in both Snohomish, Washington and Sedro-Woolley, Washington. He had crossed the radar of Law Enforcement in previous investigations, and thus became the target of increased investigations in late 2017. Members of VERDUZCO URIAS distribution group named in the indictment include:
Belinda Cruz, 40, of Sedro-Woolley, WA
Alberto Cruz Reyes, 52, of Phoenix, Arizona
Fernando Santa Cruz, 27, of Mount Vernon, WA
Rigoberto Ponce Sanchez, 28, of Sedro-Woolley, WA
Jose Urena Verduzco, 32, of Kirkland, WA
Julian Zamora Garcia, 34, of Seattle, WA
Julio Cesar Fierro-Vega, 33, of Mount Vernon, WA
Ivan Valdez Soto, 34, of Salem, Oregon
Victor Martinez, 23, of Mount Vernon, WA
Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement utilized information from a number of people working with law enforcement, some of whom made drug buys from members of the organization.
During today’s searches, law enforcement seized 18 firearms, ten pounds of heroin, twenty pounds of methamphetamine and more than $500,000 in cash.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis of the Pacific Northwest region said, “This north sound criminal enterprise has been on our radar for a very long time and the surgical removal of this group will thwart the flow of foreign sourced heroin endangering our communities.”
“The FBI worked side-by-side with the DEA and other federal, state, and local partners to execute today’s arrests, which significantly impact this drug trafficking organization’s ability to operate in the north Puget Sound region,” said Special Agent in Charge Jay S. Tabb Jr., of the FBI’s Seattle Field Office.”
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 was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The investigation was led by DEA and FBI with significant participation from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Whatcom Gang and Drug Task Force (WGDTF), Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit (SCIDEU), Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force (SRDGTF), ATF, U.S. Border Patrol, Washington State Patrol, Everett Police, North Sound SWAT, Seattle Police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and NW High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kate Vaughan and Nicholas Manheim.