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Judge: Mary K. Dimke
Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington (Benton County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Spokane
Description: Richland, Washington criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant with Conspiracy to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Actual (Pure) Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More of Fentanyl, and 5 Kilograms or More of Cocaine.
Jose Mendoza-Ruelas, age 38, was part of a large drug trafficking organization that involved a legitimate landscaping business used to cover up the organization’s drug trafficking activities. During the course of the investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration recovered large quantities of methamphetamine, fentanyl, and cash. Mendoza-Ruelas further made statements that the drug trafficking organization would give him 50,000 to 60,000 fentanyl laced pills in addition to large quantities of methamphetamine. Mendoza Ruelas was negotiating a 30 pound methamphetamine delivery when he was taken into custody. Around that time, DEA, in partnership with local law enforcement, executed numerous search warrants to include at the landscaping compound. There, law enforcement recovered over $160,000 in U.S. currency secreted inside a compartment in the wall. Law enforcement also recovered several automatic rifles armed with loaded barrel drums hanging on the wall. This compound was utilized to intake and process large drug shipments for distribution.
Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, stated “Drug distribution continues to be a scourge in the Tri-Cities and elsewhere.” U.S. Attorney Waldref continued: “I commend the collaborative efforts of state, local, and federal law enforcement to identify Mr. Mendoza-Ruelas’s drug trafficking activities and to prevent him from further distributing this poison in our communities. The Tri-Cities area and Eastern Washington are safer and stronger as a result of today’s sentence.”
Mr. Mendoza-Ruelas will spend a significant amount of time in prison due to the dedication of our state, local and federal partners who continue to work to keep our communities safe, healthy and free of individuals like him,” said Jacob D. Galvan, Acting Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division.
This case was investigated by the DEA Tri-Cities, Border Patrol, the METRO Drug Task Force, Richland Police Department, Kennewick Police Department, Pasco Police Department, and West Richland Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Van Marter.
Outcome: Defendant pled guilty and was sentenced to 150 months in prison.