Officers and investigators found guns, body armor plates, fentanyl and heroin at a home in Lynnwood on July 25. (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)

Officers and investigators found guns, body armor plates, fentanyl and heroin at a home in Lynnwood on July 25. (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)

Lynnwood couple face federal charges in fentanyl operation

They’re accused of possessing millions of dollars worth of drugs and dealing illegally in guns.

LYNNWOOD — A Lynnwood couple have been charged in federal court with possessing millions of dollars worth of fentanyl, as well as heroin and firearms.

Jose Casablanca, 38, and Jessie Cruz, 37, made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Monday.

Officers last month discovered about 1,900 grams of fentanyl worth an estimated $19 million when they arrested the couple as part of an undercover investigation that began in March, according to documents filed at the time in Snohomish County.

In a 17-page criminal complaint released Monday, investigators detailed some of the transactions that occurred in parking lots outside restaurants, stores and a tavern in and around the Lynnwood and Everett areas. The couple eventually was arrested at Arlington Municipal Airport in July.

The criminal complaint details how two detectives with the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force posed as drug and gun buyers to gather information about the pair’s drug trafficking. The undercover detectives allegedly made purchases of heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl pills from the couple. They also purchased a fully automatic firearm, described in court papers as the equivalent of an illegal machine gun, and other firearms from the pair.

The pair allegedly had Cruz transport the guns to a sale location because Casablanca had felony convictions for robbery, burglary and drug offenses and was prohibited from possessing firearms, according to the criminal complaint. The robbery and burglary convictions were from 2006; the drug case involving cocaine was from 2011.

As part of the undercover operation, investigators also reportedly found about 808 grams of heroin, 12 grams of methamphetamine, $14,000 in cash and equipment that suggested the couple had planned to package and sell the drugs.

Some of the drugs were found in a Maserati luxury car. The couple also allegedly used a BMW.

Much of their stash allegedly was found hidden in their bedroom, according to court papers.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, a potentially fatal dose of fentanyl is 2 milligrams, a task force officer noted in his report.

“The amount of fentanyl powder that (the couple) possessed at their residence has the capability to cause the death of about 700,000 citizens,” he wrote in the court papers initially filed in Snohomish County.

“(He) was in possession of about 1,900 grams of fentanyl powder in order to produce counterfeit pills,” the officer wrote. “The amount of fentanyl powder present at arrest could produce about 1.9 million counterfeit pills with a street value of at least $19 million.”

On the day they were arrested at the Arlington airport, they met with another undercover officer who was posing as someone who could get them access to a pill press to make fentanyl-tainted pills from their large stash of the potentially deadly drug. A court-authorized search warrant at the Lynnwood home resulted in the seizure of large amounts of heroin, fentanyl, multiple firearms and ammunition, as well as body armor, court papers said.

The case is being investigated by the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force and the U.S. Marshals Service Violent Offender Task Force, with assistance from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Crisham.

Eric Stevick: stevick@heraldnet.com.

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