LYNNWOOD — New federal charges against a Lynnwood man give insight into how a operation based in Mexico allegedly supplied fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine across Washington.
Drug traffickers from Sinaloa, Mexico, used tractor trailers to transport drugs across the border, and further north hundreds more miles into Washington cities like Tacoma, Spokane, Kent and Yakima, an informant reportedly told federal investigators earlier this year.
Each trailer transported a specific drug. Another trailer was designated for cash proceeds from the drugs, according to the charges in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
The Mexico-based ringleader, known as “El Pariente” or “The Relative,” had multiple cells operating in the state, with others in Arizona, Colorado, Texas and California, the informant reported. The informant would speak to El Pariente directly, typically on the WhatsApp social media platform, to set up buys with local couriers. Investigators suspect another supplier is based in Nogales, Mexico, with customers in Western Washington.
Federal agents reported they bought drugs from El Pariente and his associates four times. Each was arranged through the boss and a courier delivered the drugs. In total, the agents got over 4 pounds of meth and 2,000 pills they suspect contain fentanyl, the relatively new synthetic opioid fueling a rise in Snohomish County overdoses in recent years.
In March, agents in Oregon seized 23 pounds of meth and over 40,000 suspected fentanyl pills from a car occupied by two people believed to be couriers for El Pariente, according to the recent charges.
During the agents’ fourth buy in May, they reportedly identified a courier, Alejandro Urquidez Medina, who delivered drugs to their informant, federal prosecutors alleged. Investigators got a King County Superior Court judge to sign a search warrant to track the courier’s car. They also surveilled his Lynnwood apartment complex.
While agents tracked his movements, they saw Medina travel to a UPS in the 19400 block of Highway 99. He mailed a package that was later found to contain suspected fentanyl and cocaine, according to court papers.
In July, another King County judge signed a search warrant for Medina’s apartment on Ash Way. Prior to going inside, agents saw the suspect walking to his car and arrested him. In the bedroom, they found thousands of suspected fentanyl pills, pounds of heroin, 5 pounds of meth, drug ledgers and scales, the charges say.
In an interview with detectives, Medina reportedly acknowledged working as a drug trafficker. He reported he had several customers. He said he’d been dealing drugs for a couple months since he’d moved to Washington.
Medina also told investigators he sometimes deals 3 to 5 pounds of meth at a time, according to court documents.
On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted Medina on two counts of distribution of a controlled substance in King County and one count each of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute in Snohomish County.
Medina’s arraignment is set for next Thursday.