EDMONDS — It’s a tale of dopers, half-truths and flying bullets; a case where a purloined pound of methamphetamine turned up hidden in a kitchen in a bag of pancake mix, and the cast of characters includes an ex-con whose violent reputation features rumors that he once cut off a former girlfriend’s fingers.
Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives have had to sort truth from fiction as they investigate the Nov. 28 killing of Jorge A. Leal-Sanchez, court papers show.
The Everett man, 30, was known on the streets as “Ne Ne,” and reportedly had ties to drug traffickers from Mexico.
He was shot at least four times, including once behind the ear, while he sat in a car parked in the 15900 block of 56th Avenue W, in the Meadowdale area.
The killing took place outside a home surrounded by one of the few extensive stands of timber remaining in that corner of south Snohomish County. The house is tucked out of sight behind a gate at the end of a long driveway.
The only known witnesses to the killing appear to be involved in buying, selling and using meth and heroin, according to search warrants filed in the case.
Detectives have been told that Leal-Sanchez went to the home that night to sell 1.5 pounds of meth. Some of the witnesses reluctantly have admitted to helping broker the deal with another man, who reportedly showed up with several thousand dollars in cash, detectives wrote.
The money changed hands, but Leal-Sanchez was fatally shot before the transaction was completed.
Some of those present claimed they saw nothing. They were inside the house. The guy who allegedly was buying the meth left before sheriff’s deputies arrived. He’s been letting his lawyer do the talking, court papers show.
Meanwhile, one of the witnesses told detectives about being confronted by a man who wore a mask and carried a handgun. She was carrying the drug-buy money to Leal-Sanchez’s car. The gunman demanded the cash and also ordered her to the ground, she said.
A search of the area by police after the shooting turned up no signs of the gunman.
The woman, who turns 30 this week, was hiding under a bed in the home when deputies arrived. She told investigators she didn’t know what happened with the drugs and money.
Her story changed, however, after police obtained a judge’s permission to search the house, according to court papers.
Detectives found the meth, wrapped in a bloodstained package, hidden in the kitchen in a bag of pancake mix. They also found the slain man’s wallet, and $2,200 cash, inside a coffee container.
The woman allegedly admitted taking the items from Leal-Sanchez after he was killed. Detectives also recovered his cell phone, which was stuck in the box springs of the bed the woman was hiding under, detectives wrote.
A review of the man’s phone and social media supported the detectives’ suspicions that the people at the home that night played roles arranging the drug deal, court papers said.
The woman was jailed in November for investigation of drug violations and theft. She also was wanted on a warrant.
Detectives have been told multiple theories about who set up whom for robbery Nov. 28. They’ve also been told that the case involves local representatives of the Sinaloa drug cartel as well as members of the 18th Street Sureno and Sur 13 gangs, court papers show.
One of those figures is known by the nickname “Danger.” A witness in the case told detectives about his reputation for violence, including reports that he once mutilated an ex-girlfriend by cutting off her fingers.
The woman who reported witnessing Leal-Sanchez’s shooting told detectives that “Danger” is a former boyfriend. She claimed that during the robbery she’d warned the gunman that he was risking the wrath of “Danger.”
The gunman told her he knows “Danger,” and ordered her to the ground anyway, she told detectives.
Investigators know “Danger,” too.
Just three weeks before the shooting, he was released from prison where he served time for a weapons violation. That case stemmed from a fatal 2014 drug robbery, detectives wrote in a search warrant.
Witnesses place “Danger” in the Meadowdale house prior to the November robbery, a detail that the woman did not mention, detectives wrote. They also noted that her clothing on the night of the shooting wasn’t wet or muddy, which is what they would have expected if she’d been forced at gunpoint to lie down on the ground.
The woman “denied knowing who the shooter was and denied having any involvement” in orchestrating the fatal robbery, detectives wrote in their search warrant affidavit.
She reportedly told them that “if she wanted to rob ‘Ne Ne’ she would go to his ‘stash house’ and be smart,” they wrote.
She claimed she’d done “licks” before — street slang for a drug robbery.
The case remains under investigation. As of late last week, detectives had not identified a suspect in the killing, sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; email@example.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.
Do you have information about the Nov. 28 killing of Jorge A. Leal-Sanchez? Call detectives at 425-388-3845.