Three Kent residents indicted as part of international drug ring

Three Kent residents were indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on accusations of conspiracy to distribute cocaine as part of an alleged drug-trafficking ring spanning the Seattle area, Idaho and Mexico.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Friday, September 26, 2008 2:44pm
  • News

Three Kent residents were indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on accusations of conspiracy to distribute cocaine as part of an alleged drug-trafficking ring spanning the Seattle area, Idaho and Mexico.

Simon Ruiz Garcia, 37, Maria Baez, 30, and Felicia Bowen, 36, all of Kent, were among the 15 people indicted in U.S. District Court for their alleged roles in the drug operation, according to a U.S. Department of Justice media release.

The agencies involved in the year-long investigation included the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Seattle Police Department and the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Agents seized 20 kilos of cocaine, 16 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately $940,000 in cash, and numerous cars and boats during searches the past month at seven Western Washington locations.

“This organization was moving large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico into our community,” said U.S. Attorney Jeffrey C. Sullivan, in the media release. “Some of these defendants were supplying drugs to street gangs that prey on our kids, and threaten our safety.”

Law enforcement officials used court-authorized wiretaps to track the activities of the drug organization.

Agents made several arrests on Sept. 10 when Bertario Santos-Rojas, 36, of Auburn, the alleged Seattle-area leader of the drug ring, took delivery of 15 kilos of cocaine.

The agents had intensified their investigation after Oregon State Police stopped a Cadillac Escalade in November, 2007, on Interstate 5 near Salem. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found 31 kilos of cocaine and more than $11,000 in cash hidden in a speaker box in the rear of the vehicle.

Santos-Rojas was a passenger in the Escalade. Santos-Rojas has been indicted on accusations of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Four Renton residents were indicted on similar charges.

The sentence for a person convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine can range from 10 years to life in prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case.

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