Feds seize 20 kilos of cocaine, take down major distribution ring

More than a dozen people face federal cocaine trafficking charges following a year-long investigation into the Rojas drug trafficking organization operating in the Puget Sound and southeast Idaho areas.

Using court authorized wiretaps, law enforcement tracked the activities of the drug organization and made arrests as the Seattle area leader took delivery of 15 kilos of cocaine.

Fifteen people have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Washington. Among them was Bertario Santos-Rojas, 36, of Auburn.

Additionally, six people are in state or immigration custody.

In Idaho, six people were arrested last week, and seven additional customers of the drug ring were arrested this morning.

Over the past month authorities searched seven locations in Western Washington and seized 20 kilos of cocaine, 16 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately $940,000 in cash, and numerous cars and boats.

“This organization was moving large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico into our community,” said U.S. Attorney Jeffrey C. Sullivan. “Some of these defendants were supplying drugs to street gangs that prey on our kids, and threaten our safety.”

The federal focus on the Rojas organization intensified in November 2007, when a Cadillac Escalade registered to a Seattle resident was stopped by Oregon State Police as it traveled north on Interstate 5 outside of Salem, Ore. Santos-Rojas was a passenger in the Escalade.

A drug K-9 alerted to the SUV, and following an X-ray examination by Customs and Border Protection in Portland, investigators found 31 kilos of cocaine and more than $11,000 cash hidden in a speaker box in the rear of the SUV. The driver of the SUV, and Santos-Rojas are charged in connection with that seizure in the District of Oregon as well.