Woman says cartel forced her to deal drugs to pay friend’s debt

EVERETT — The woman claimed she dealt drugs under duress.

Now detectives with the Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force are vetting her story.

One thing is clear: She was in deep.

Detectives this week arrested two men they believe to be her suppliers while they allegedly were in possession of nearly two pounds of methamphetamine and more than a pound of heroin.

After she was arrested May 20 for investigation of possessing methamphetamine, the woman insisted that a drug cartel from Mexico had given her no good options.

Her predicament stemmed from a friend’s arrest a year earlier, she told detectives. The friend was caught with $40,000 of illegal drugs. After the arrest, she said cartel representatives showed up at her doorstep to deliver an ultimatum: sell drugs to pay off the debt or her family would be hurt.

The woman didn’t have names or phone numbers of the people higher up the drug pyramid. She said the gist of the arrangement was, “Don’t call us. We’ll call you.”

So the woman and the detectives waited.

On Tuesday, a gold-colored Nissan Frontier pickup pulled up to the home shortly before noon.

Detectives pulled over the truck and impounded it.

After getting a search warrant, they found an orange toolbox. The meth and heroin were inside.

The suspects, 24 and 21, were arrested for investigation of extortion and possessing drugs with the intent to sell. Both men are from Mexico. Neither is a U.S. citizen.

Each is being held in jail on $250,000 bail.

Detectives continue to try to sort out the woman’s story.

“We are unclear at this point to what extent she was involved,” said Lt. Doug Jeske of the regional drug and gang task force. “How much of that was forced on her and how much was willing participation we just don’t know yet. I think it’s fair to say the case is ongoing and we will continue to work it.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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