High-level drug distributor sentenced to ten years in prison

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FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

Seattle – A 36-year-old resident of Bothell, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to ten years in prison for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.  Gabriel Vasquez-Ruiz has been in custody since a major drug ring takedown on December 16, 2020. At today’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour imposed five years of supervised release to follow the prison term.

According to records filed in the case, Vasquez-Ruiz was a high-volume drug distributor, able to order up pound quantities of methamphetamine for his customers.  On multiple occasions in early 2019, Vazquez-Ruiz sold a total of more than three pounds of methamphetamine to a person working with law enforcement.  Conversations intercepted by police in November 2020 established that Vazquez-Ruiz agreed to trade a half kilo of cocaine for an SUV and later ordered 5 pounds of meth.

The investigation of the drug ring resulted in the seizure of more than 247 pounds of methamphetamine, 35 pounds of heroin, 42,000 fentanyl pills, 24 firearms and more than $625,000 in cash and bank accounts.

Vazquez-Ruiz pleaded guilty on May 3, 2022, and in his plea agreement resolved both the federal charges and serious state charges.

In asking for a ten-year sentence prosecutors noted that Vazquez -Ruiz had been involved in drug dealing for many years.  “…he did not simply sell small amounts of drugs to support his own habit. Rather, he worked alongside high-ranking members of a large transnational drug organization, selling significant quantities of drugs and at points supplying the organization with cocaine,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

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, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

The investigation was conducted by 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, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

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