Drug boss hid huge amounts of drugs and cash in Arlington, laundered $1M through casinos, gets 15 years in prison

By Gangsters Inc. Editors

The boss of a violent, prolific drug trafficking ring was sentenced on January 31 in a Seattle court to 15 years in prison. 36-year-old Cesar Valdez-Sanudo pleaded guilty in June 2022 to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to commit money laundering and carrying a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime.  

At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said he based the sentence on the “stunning size of the drug trafficking organization, and the amount of fentanyl and the death it is causing in our community.”

“Mr. Valdez-Sanudo led a violent ring of drug traffickers and buried kilos of meth, heroin, and fentanyl on his Arlington property, along with more than $300,000 cash – proceeds from the harm he spread across the community,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “This is a long prison sentence, but given the harm these drugs are doing in our community, it is the appropriate sanction.”

Wiretap investigation

Members of the drug ring were indicted in December 2020, following a lengthy wiretap investigation. Law enforcement seized large amounts of drugs during the investigation including a 49-pound load of methamphetamine that was coming to Washington State from California, disguised in boxes.

All told, in the course of the investigation law enforcement seized approximately 143 pounds of methamphetamine, 15 pounds of heroin, 35,000 suspected fentanyl pills, 24 firearms, and approximately $ 778,000.

Valdez-Sanudo was the leader of the ring.  In messages to his coconspirators, he discussed violence against a member of the ring suspected of stealing a drug load. When he was arrested at the Snoqualmie Casino, Valdez-Sanudo had three firearms in his vehicle, one with a homemade silencer. Valdez-Sanudo had told others he planned to confront a member of the ring who owed a debt for drugs.

Dope & guns on the table, laundering $1 million through casinos

When law enforcement searched Valdez-Sanudo’s Arlington property, they seized more than 27 kilos of meth, nearly 6 kilos of heroin, and nearly 2 kilos of fentanyl pills, much of it buried underground. On the property, there were 10 firearms.

Law enforcement seized cash, checks, and the contents of bank accounts as proceeds of the drug crime. Valdez-Sanudo schemed to launder more than $1 million through casinos. He also purchased property and vehicles to launder drug money. Conspirators sought to avoid banking transaction reporting requirements by making deposits in amounts below the $10,000 threshold.

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