SEATTLE — A Lynnwood man was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday after being found to possess millions of dollars worth of fentanyl, heroin and firearms.
Jose Casablanca, 39, was arrested in July 2020 after an investigation uncovered he had enough fentanyl to make over a million pills, according to court documents originally filed in Snohomish County. He pleaded guilty to three charges in May: conspiracy to distributed controlled substances, possession of a machine gun and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
A detective with the Snohomish County Regional Drug Task Force was introduced to a man calling himself “Isaac” last March. “Isaac” was later revealed to be Casablanca, according to court documents. The defendant called the detective, who asked to buy two ounces of heroin. The detective and a partner made the purchase from Casablanca and his co-conspirator, Jessie Cruz, the next day. Cruz was sentenced to seven years in prison in April.
The two detectives went on to buy methamphetamine and fentanyl pills on top of the heroin in the next several months, according to the 17-page criminal complaint filed last year in federal court. The transactions took place in parking lots outside restaurants, stores and a tavern in the Lynnwood and Everett areas. Casablanca and Cruz used a Maserati and a BMW to make the sales.
The detectives also bought guns from the defendants, including a fully-automatic firearm classified as illegal, according to court papers. Casablanca had previously been convicted of felonies for robbery, burglary and drug offenses, which prohibited him from possessing firearms. Because of that, Cruz reportedly would transport the guns.
Casablanca’s first-degree robbery and burglary convictions came in 2006. The drug case, which involved cocaine, was in 2011.
Casablanca and Cruz were arrested at Arlington Municipal Airport last year.
They’d gone to the airport to meet 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 pair’s Lynnwood home resulted in the seizure of large amounts of heroin, fentanyl, multiple firearms and ammunition, as well as body armor, court papers said. In the master bedroom, police found about 800 grams of heroin, 1,400 grams of fentanyl, $14,000 in cash and equipment that suggested the couple had planned to package and sell the drugs. A detective figured the fentanyl could be worth between $14 million and $23 million after it was pressed into counterfeit pills.
Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid whose rise has been attributed to a dramatic spike in overdoses both locally and nationally. The Drug Enforcement Administration says a fentanyl dose greater than 2 milligrams is considered potentially lethal, 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 roughly 700,000 citizens,” he wrote in the court papers initially filed in Snohomish County.
Both Casablanca and Cruz will be on supervised release for three years after their release.
Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.
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