Edmonds police assist in investigation of violent Mexican drug trafficking organization indicted Thursday

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Edmonds police officers belonging to the South Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force were part of an investigation that led to a grand jury indictment returned late Thursday against a violent Mexican drug trafficking organization, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Western Washington said Friday. Four individuals named in the indictment are from Lynnwood.

The investigation involves a Sinoloa, Mexico,  drug-trafficking organization alleged to be smuggling heroin and methamphetamine into Arizona, and then transporting it for distribution as far east as Alabama and Ohio, and as far north as Western Washington.  The investigation of the OLAIS ROCHA organization began in 2009, through the efforts of the South Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force.

Between January and June 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration partnered with the South Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force on a court-authorized wiretap of cell phones used by the ring, which provided insights into the flow of drugs and cash, and the violence that is part and parcel of the drug trade. When officers and agents moved in to make arrests in June 2011, law enforcement seized eight pounds of crystal methamphetamine, seven pounds of heroin, more than $174,000 in cash, nine firearms and 10 cars.

Fifteen of 18 indicted have been arrested and will be arraigned on the superseding indictment next week, including the following from Lynnwood: Orlando Olais Rocha, 31; Everardo Olais Rocha, 27; Jose Martin Villa Rivera, 31 and Jacqueline C. Villa, 28.

The court-authorized wiretap recordings reveal details of the drug ring. Members smuggled drugs across the border from Mexico, to a stash house in Arizona. Drugs and cash were packed in special compartments of vehicles or in voids within the frame of the vehicle. Some loads were packed in the void beneath the bed of a pick-up truck. The drugs were then transported to the Seattle area and elsewhere for distribution. In conversations recorded on the court authorized wiretap, members of the conspiracy were heard discussing a contract killing of unknown persons in Mexico.

Thursday’s superseding indictment added two new federal firearms charges against two of the leading defendants, Orlando and Everado Rocha, who were charged by the grand jury with two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. These charges involve six firearms, including an AK-47 assault rifle, which were seized from a duplex in Puyallup and an apartment in Lynnwood. These new firearms charges are in addition to three previously charged counts alleging conspiracy to import methamphetamine and heroin, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

If convicted on the drugs counts, the defendants face a mandatory term of imprisonment of at least 10 years, and up to life imprisonment, a fine of up to $10 million, a term of supervised release following imprisonment of at least five years, and forfeiture of all drug proceeds and facilitating property.  If Orlando and Everado Rocha are convicted of the newly added firearms offenses, they will face an additional mandatory five-year sentence which must run consecutively to the sentencing imposed on the drug offenses.

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