Final defendant in large, wide ranging drug ring sentenced to nine years in prison


Date: April 16, 2024


Seattle — The final defendant in a large drug trafficking ring was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 108 months in prison for trafficking drugs while armed with a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Juan de Dios Alcaraz-Mardueno was a drug redistributor and interstate transporter of heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour remarked on the “dangerous nature of the drugs” the defendant trafficked and that he wasn’t deterred. “He continued this conduct even after contact with law enforcement,” Judge Coughenour said.

According to records filed in the case, the conspirators distributed large amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine, smuggling the drugs into the U.S. from Mexico and then transporting them up the west coast for distribution in Pierce, King, and Snohomish Counties. The investigation and drug ring take-down on December 16, 2020, resulted in the seizure of 143 pounds of methamphetamine, 15 pounds of heroin, 35,000 fentanyl pills, 24 firearms, and $778,000. Drug ring leader Cesar Valdez-Sanudo was sentenced to 15 years in prison in January 2023. Valdez-Sanudo had buried large quantities of drugs and cash on his Arlington, Washington property.

Juan de Dios Alcaraz-Mardueno was identified and indicted as a member of the drug ring, but evaded capture until July 2022. By that time, he had been heard on another wiretap investigation, trafficking drugs for a different drug organization.

On Feb. 5, 2020, agents stopped Alcaraz-Mardueno’s vehicle in Centralia, Washington. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed approximately 12 kilograms of methamphetamine, 1.8 kilograms of heroin, and 162.4 grams of blue fentanyl pills. Investigators also found a loaded Walther PPQ 9mm handgun in the vehicle. The defendant admitted to possessing this gun to facilitate his drug trafficking in his Plea Agreement.

On Sept. 15, 2023, Alcaraz-Mardueno pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, and carrying a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime. The gun crime is punishable by a mandatory minimum five years in prison consecutive to any other sentence imposed in the case.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multiagency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (CI), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Tacoma Residence Office in partnership with Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement Team (TNET), Kent Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, SeaTac Police Department, Tacoma Police Department, Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force (SRDTF), the Skagit County Sheriff's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Amy Jaquette and C. Andrew Colasurdo.

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.