Renton man gets 13 years for drug trafficking linked to Mexican cartel

A 32-year-old Renton man was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 13 years in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

Arturo J. Barajas Garcia was one of 16 suspects arrested in a nationwide drug crackdown named “Project Coronado” in October of 2009. The 2008 investigation was tracking the distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine from the La Familia cartel based in Michoacan, Mexico.

Barajas Garcia was said to be the head of the drug ring who negotiated for the delivery of the drugs for supply sources located throughout the United States and Mexico.

During the investigation, a Drug Enforcement Administration led task force involving many local police agencies searched nineteen residences and twenty-two vehicles in Washington and California. Law enforcement officers seized twenty-seven pounds of methamphetamine, ten kilos of cocaine, seven guns, and an estimated $150,000 in cash. According to court records in the case, wiretap recordings indicated that the defendant directed others to transport meth from California to Washington, to re-distribute it in local communities, and to arrange payment for the drugs in U.S. currency.

Under his plea agreement, Barajas Garcia forfeited any interest he had in nearly $230,000 in cash, a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado, seven guns, and property in Monroe as proceeds of the drug conspiracy.

A number of defendants in the drug ring have already been sentenced: Demetrio Saldana Robles, 27, and Juan Carlos Saldana Robles, 24, both of Monroe, were each sentenced to six years in prison. Trent Thomas Jesmer, 32, also of Monroe, was sentenced to 70 months in prison. Emmanuel Valdovinos Cruzaley, 27, of Renton, was sentenced to 48 months in prison. Jorge Ochoa Avila, 40, of Monroe, and Uriel Baldovinos Cruzaley, 30, of Renton, were each sentenced to 37 months in prison.