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Man sentenced to 10 years for cocaine trafficking
A Whatcom County man who had his wife and children transport and hide more than 18 kilos of cocaine in his storage unit was sentenced to ten years in prison today in U.S. District Court in Seattle, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.
Estevane Olmos, 40, was contacted by law enforcement in early September 2011, after a car he was driving was seen dropping off a passenger who attempted to run across the border with Canada. The investigation ultimately led to another car owned by Olmos containing 21 kilos of cocaine, and a storage locker in Everson that contained more than 18 kilos of cocaine. U.S. District Judge John C Coughenour imposed the sentence.
According to records filed in the case, U.S. Border Patrol agents on routine patrol first spotted Olmos’ car near the border. Agents were able to arrest the man who attempted to run from the car and cross the border. Olmos claimed he had just met the person at a party and had agreed to give him a ride.
He later admitted he had previously taken others to the border, charging $500 per person for transporting them. At that time Olmos claimed to be homeless. However, the next day a Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputy stopped a different car registered to Olmos in Everson. The driver fled, but the deputy found two gym bags in the car containing 21 kilos of cocaine. Further investigation tied Olmos to a storage unit in the area.
A drug sniffing canine alerted to the unit, and the owner of the property told agents that the previous evening a woman and her children had moved suitcases into the storage unit. After obtaining a warrant, agents discovered 18.92 kilos of cocaine in the suitcases. Olmos was arrested September 10 at a casino in Sumas, Washington. Olmos told agents he had been smuggling cocaine for several months, transporting up to 30 kilos two or three times per week.
“Make no mistake about it; the illicit drug trade is a ruthless underground business that demands law enforcement’s attention on both sides of the border,” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Seattle. “Through the coordinated efforts of border law enforcement agencies, nearly a million dollars’ worth of drugs was kept off of Canadian streets.”
In asking for a ten year sentence, prosecutors noted that the cocaine involved in just the storage locker seizure represented nearly 19,000 user doses. Olmos “enlisted the unwitting assistance of his wife and children, thereby also placing them in grave danger. On this single occasion, the defendant sent his wife and children to store more than $750,000 worth of cocaine in his storage unit, to facilitate transporting the cocaine into Canada. It is noteworthy that this dollar value is conservative given the cocaine had a purity content of 75% compared to the purity content of 5% to 20% ultimately found in the cocaine sold to end users. Even assuming that the total weight of the cocaine seized was not doubled or tripled by the time it reached the end users, this cocaine represents 18,920 user doses,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security (HSI), the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and the Blaine Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST). The HSI-led BEST is composed of full time members from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Offices of Field Operations (OFO), Border Patrol (OBP) and Air and Marine (OAM); Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO), Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). BEST Blaine combats transnational criminal organizations by identifying, investigating and eliminating vulnerabilities along one of the most diverse geographic areas along the northern border.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lisca Borichewski. Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Emily Langlie (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.