“NealinCaborca” for Borderland Beat
|Logo of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, which presided over the case.|
Reynaldo Perez Munoz, 41, of Pasco, Washington, was sentenced to 26 years after previously pleading guilty to distributing pure methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, as well as money laundering and possessing fentanyl with intent to distribute it.
The case involved one of the single largest drug seizures in the eastern part of the US state of Washington and one of the largest Fentanyl pill seizures at the time, said investigators.
U.S. District Court Senior Judge Ed Shea found that Munoz was the lead organizer of the cell for the notorious Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico.
“As a leader of the cell operating here, Munoz was responsible for coordinating drug shipments and collecting large amounts of drug cash proceeds that would be sent back to cartel leaders in Mexico,” said federal officials.
The cash money drops showed that in less than one month, the organization was able to hand deliver over $1.25 million in drug proceeds, said investigators. FBI agents also discovered ledgers recording drug sales exceeding $6 million.
“In just a short period of time, Munoz and his co-conspirators coordinated vast shipments of drugs and cash across state and international borders,” said Donald M. Voiret, FBI Special Agent in Charge in Seattle.
“Removing these dangerous drugs from Washington state will no doubt save lives and families from the pain of addiction. This sentence reflects the severity of Munoz’s actions, and he will have decades in prison to consider the impact of his decisions,” said a news release.
Munoz, his wife, his wife’s sister and brother-in-law and another relative were indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in the widespread operation. All of them entered guilty pleas in U.S. District Court.
When agents searched one man’s Pasco home in February 2018, they found more than 19,000 Fentanyl-laced pills, 40 pounds of heroin, 4 pounds of methamphetamine and 23 pounds of cocaine, in addition to $170,000 and a cache of firearms.
FBI TASK FORCE
It all started with the FBI’s Cross Border Violence Task Force investigation of a money laundering operation that was based in Mexico and stretched across the United States. A tipster started providing information in September 2015 and, over the next 1 1/2 years, two undercover agents were able to get in with the criminal enterprise by posing as employees.
The agents helped to complete “several successful controlled pickups, reverse money laundering pickups, and/or seizures of U.S. currency in Kansas City, Cincinnati, New York City, Philadelphia, San Diego, the Boston area and now Eastern Washington,” according to court documents.
|Map of the US state of Washington and the Tri-Cities urban area, where Muñoz headed his drug ring. The Tri-Cities are three closely linked cities (Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland) in Washington.|
“These controlled operations involved interceptions totaling more than $7 million, and/or seizures totaling $7 million.”
Documents show that undercover agents were sent to Pasco to pick up cash drug proceeds, first from Reynaldo Perez Munoz and later Prosser native Braulio Jimenez of Pasco. The men’s wives, Marisela Mendoza and Anna Munoz, are sisters and previously pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony for failing to report a felony. Jimenez was previously sentenced to 18 years in prison. His older brother, Victor Jimenez, also pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony.
BAGS OF DRUGS, CASH
The pick-up amounts would range from $250,000 to more than $630,000. The bundled cash would be wrapped in multiple layers of plastic wrap with a greasy substance, like motor oil or grease, between the layers. In the search of the Jimenez home, agents located the bags of drugs and cash in the crawl space accessed through a bedroom closet.
Jimenez’s older brother, Victor Jimenez Jr., lived in that room but claimed he didn’t know anything about the hidden stash and didn’t pay attention to his brother’s activities, court documents said. Guns were found in several different locations, including inside a bin of children’s toys in the bedroom of Mendoza and Braulio Jimenez.
Reynaldo Munoz was the last of the suspects to plead guilty. In his plea, Munoz acknowledged conducting financial transactions both across the country and internationally, believing that it was connected to illegal drug activities, court documents said.
Munoz used to work as a truck driver but had to stop because of illness and injury. He then went to work in an auto body shop, and it was there he said he met people who offered him work if he agreed to pick up large sums of money from one location and take it somewhere else, documents said.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force in Tri-Cities, Cross Border Violence Task Force (CBVTF) in San Diego CA, the Kennewick, Richland and Pasco police departments, Benton County Sheriff’s Office and Washington Department of Corrections.
The case was prosecuted by Stephanie Van Marter, assistant U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington.
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