2 charged in federal court after major Everett fentanyl bust

Since September 2022, agents investigated the suspected drug trafficking operation on Merrill Creek Parkway.

Federal court papers show German Heredia-Felix with a boy he allegedly took with him on drug deals. (U.S. District Court in Seattle)

EVERETT — Two men were charged in federal court after authorities seized half a million fentanyl-laced pills in an Everett apartment drug bust.

Prosecutors charged German Heredia-Felix and Fernando Mercado-Castro with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

In early 2022, investigators with the DEA, Homeland Security, FBI and the Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit began investigating an alleged drug trafficking operating in Western Washington, according to the charges filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

A confidential source with the Skagit drug unit purchased suspected fentanyl pills from the dealers in September 2022, the charges say. The source provided information on the case in exchange for “consideration” on a pending criminal charge.

Authorities seized a stash of drugs from inside of the apartment on Merrill Creek Parkway, according to federal charges. (U.S. District Court in Seattle)

The drug dealer put the informant in touch with a distributor who would deliver the drugs, the charges say. He was instructed to go to an apartment complex on Merrill Creek Parkway for the transaction.

Investigators observed a man holding a young child’s hand and walking up to the source’s car outside the apartment building. He entered and then left with the child. The source purchased a bag of blue pills, weighing 93.4 grams and stamped with “M” and “30,” a DEA agent wrote in court papers. Investigators recognized them as counterfeit oxycodone pills.

The man walked away with the child and entered an apartment in the complex, court papers said. He was later identified as Heredia-Felix.

Over the next six months, investigators enlisted the help of two other confidential sources to purchase drugs in a similar manner. On May 4, detectives used one of the informants to buy drugs from a dealer who lived inside the apartment complex. The source was told to order a “boat,” or 1,000 fentanyl pills, according to the charges.

Agents saw a black Volkswagen Tiguan exit a garage at Merrill Creek Parkway. The driver went to the informant’s location and delivered a bag of methamphetamine weighing 462.6 grams and a bag of blue pills weighing 110.6 grams, according to federal agents. Detectives followed the Tiguan as it re-entered the garage.

The informant identified Heredia-Felix as the person who sold him the drugs. On May 10, Skagit Superior Court Judge Laura Riquelme authorized a search warrant for an apartment in the building that investigators believed Heredia-Felix lived in.

Agents entered the apartment the next day, finding Heredia-Felix, four other people and a small child — believed to be the same one who accompanied Heredia-Felix to drug deals, according to the charges.

The child was “removed from potentially hazardous conditions” by Child Protective Services, police said.

The drug unit and its partners seized over 500,000 fentanyl-laced pills, 10 kilograms of methamphetamine, 2.8 kilograms of cocaine, a small amount of heroin and fentanyl powder, five guns and $260,000 of cash, according to court documents.

Police reportedly seized over half a million fentanyl-laced pills and other drugs from an Everett apartment. (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)

Police reportedly seized over half a million fentanyl-laced pills and other drugs from an Everett apartment. (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)

During the search, Sully, a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office dog, returned to his kennel after entering the apartment and was found “unresponsive,” police said. The handler gave the dog three or four doses of naxolone. Sully was released from the hospital that same day and has fully recovered, according to the sheriff’s office.

In statements to agents following his arrest, Heredia-Felix said he lived alone at the apartment for three months.

He reported he had been trafficking drugs for the past four months, the charges say. Heredia-Felix entered the United States to find legitimate work, but it became easier to earn money selling drugs, the DEA agent wrote.

The other suspect, Mercado-Castro, said he also lived at the apartment for the past three months. He had been sleeping in the living room, because the beds in the second bedroom were too small, court documents said.

Mercado-Castro told investigators he came to the United States from Mexico. While looking for a job, he had been helping Heredia-Felix sell drugs, the charges say. He described his role as someone who was supposed to be “present” in the apartment, but that he was not guarding the drugs.

He also reported he helped deliver drugs to buyers, making approximately three deliveries a day.

Investigators found a Chevrolet Impala in the parking lot of the apartment. In the car, investigators found a blue stuffed animal in the passenger seat. A clear plastic bag full of suspected fentanyl pills were found inside the animal, as well as a plastic bag containing apparent fentanyl powder. A 9 mm pistol was found under the passenger seat.

Both suspects were arrested that day. U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Paula McCandlis signed orders Monday to detain both men pending trial.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @EDHJonTall.

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