Lynnwood, Washington man sentenced to 10 years in prison for gun and drug trafficking

Seattle – A 39-year-old Lynnwood, Washington, man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 10 years in prison for federal charges stemming from his drug and gun trafficking, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman.  Jose L. Casablanca and co-defendant, Jessie N. Cruz, were arrested in late July 2020, following a lengthy undercover investigation.  In May 2021, Casablanca pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession of a machine gun, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said, “This is your last chance… When you come out in your 40s you will have missed many events with your daughters.” Judge Lasnik urged Casablanca to choose a new path.

“This defendant sold heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl, three of the most deadly and addictive controlled substances available, that have ravaged communities and families in Western Washington,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Gorman. “Add to that his firearms trafficking – including possessing a machine gun – and this defendant has demonstrated he is a danger to the community.”

Records filed in the case detail how two detectives with the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force (SRDTF) posed as drug and gun buyers to gather information about the pair’s drug trafficking activity.  The undercover detectives made purchases of heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl pills from Casablanca and Cruz.  They also purchased a fully automatic firearm, classified as an illegal machine gun, and other firearms from the pair.  Casablanca is a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing firearms, so the two discussed with undercover officers how Cruz transported the guns to the sale location so that Casablanca would not be caught with a firearm.

Casablanca and Cruz confided to the undercover detectives where they had hidden a massive amount of fentanyl in their Lynnwood home.  On the day they were arrested at a regional airport, they met with yet another undercover officer who was posing as someone who could get them access to a pill press to make fentanyl tainted pills from their large stash of the potentially deadly drug.  A court-authorized search warrant at the Lynnwood home resulted in the seizure of large amounts of heroin, fentanyl, multiple firearms, and ammunition, as well as body armor.

At the time of their arrest, law enforcement searched the Maserati the couple used in their drug trafficking activities and found both narcotics and a firearm.

Co-defendant Cruz was sentenced in April 2021 to 7 years in prison.  Both will be on three years of supervised release following prison.

The case was investigated by the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force and the United States Marshals Service Violent Offender Task Force, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kate Crisham.

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