Methamphetamine seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). COURTESY FILE PHOTO, DEA

Methamphetamine seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). COURTESY FILE PHOTO, DEA

Kent man pleads guilty to federal drug trafficking charges

Organization smuggled and distributed meth, heroin and fentanyl in Puget Sound region

A 37-year-old Kent man pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges and could face a minimum of 10 years in prison up to life in prison.

Jose Elias Barbosa entered the plea Monday, Aug. 29 in U.S. District Court in Seattle, according to an Aug. 29 U.S. Department of Justice press release. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 13 by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour.

Prosecutors have agreed to recommend no more than 14 years in prison when Barbosa is sentenced in December.

In his plea agreement, Barbosa admitted he was one of the leaders of a transnational drug trafficking organization that distributed heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine in the Puget Sound region.

Law enforcement has linked the organization to the The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) in Mexico. In November 2019, the drug trafficking organization received a shipment of liquid methamphetamine concealed in candles. Barbosa helped organizational members to extract the methamphetamine and cook it into crystal form at a Port Orchard location. Barbosa was responsible for the distribution of at least 55 pounds of methamphetamine, 600 grams of heroin, and fentanyl throughout Western Washington and elsewhere, according to the press release

Barbosa also pursued those who owed drug debts to the organization and possessed firearms during the drug conspiracy. According to the plea agreement, on one occasion, Barbosa took a car from another drug trafficking organization member to satisfy a drug debt. Barbosa later threatened that same member.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces operation. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Tacoma Resident Office in partnership with Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement Team, Kent Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, SeaTac Police Department, Thurston County Narcotics Team, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

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