A Pasco couple suspected of being involved in a methamphetamine distribution ring pleaded guilty this week in federal court in Richland.
Manuel Salvador Diaz Solis was accused of possessing more than 3 pounds of pure meth and being the leader of the drug ring in Eastern Washington, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court.
Diaz Solis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture of substance containing a detectable amount of meth.
He admitted his actions happened between March 2010 and June 2, 2011 and that he was a member of the drug ring.
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His wife, Yoana Sandoval, also had been charged with the same offense, but through a plea agreement, she admitted to possessing 34 rounds of .45-caliber ammunition in September 2011.
A sentence of five months, 29 days is expected to be recommended after Sandoval pleaded guilty to being an alien in possession of ammunition.
The pleas were made in Judge Edward Shea's courtroom. He agreed to defer accepting Sandoval's plea until the July 12 sentencing.
The plea agreement for Diaz Solis said that he waives his right to appeal as long as the judge does not give him a sentence longer than 15 years, eight months in prison with six years of supervised release.
Diaz Solis also will be sentenced July 12.
According to court documents, the investigation into the drug ring began March 31, 2011, when a woman was arrested in Klamath Falls with about 11 pounds of meth hidden in the car she was driving.
The woman claimed she was driving from California to see her boyfriend, but she didn't know the man's last name or the street he lived on.
The Oregon State Patrol trooper became suspicious and asked to search the car. Meth was found in a secret compartment under the back seat.
The DEA laboratory found the drugs to be 4,977 net grams of pure meth.
The woman, identified in documents only as CF, told investigators she was supposed to take the drugs to Pasco. The woman said she was supposed to meet someone she knew only as Soldado.
When DEA agents set up a controlled delivery in Pasco, Diaz Solis, who also goes by Manny and Soldado, met CF at the Casa Madrigal restaurant on West Court Street.
CF and Diaz Solis talked for some time, but then Diaz Solis suddenly left, leaving his Toyota pickup behind. A review of the recorded conversation later revealed that CF may have indicated that she was wearing a wire.
On June 2, 2011, a man identified in documents as AP was arrested by the Tri-Cities Violent Gang Task Force while making a drug delivery to an FBI confidential source. He had about two pounds of meth in his vehicle and one pound of meth at his home.
AP told investigators that he got the meth from Diaz Solis. AP also said Diaz Solis lived at the Chapel Hill Boulevard apartments with his wife, Sandoval, who also used the name Ruby and owned Ruby's Boutique, a clothing store in Kennewick.
Investigators learned that AP was supposed to meet CF at the Pasco restaurant in March, but when she was late, AP backed out. Diaz Solis went instead, then called AP after he found out CF was wearing a wire.
Diaz Solis was arrested July 11, 2011, by Pasco police for not having a valid driver's license and was booked into jail when officers learned he was not in the country legally. During the traffic stop, Diaz Solis identified himself as Florentino Hamarillo-Crus.
When Diaz Solis was transferred to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, he called his wife and asked her to call several people. The couple also talked about how it was getting too "hot" and that they may have to leave the area.
Diaz Solis was arrested on the federal court drug charge in August 2011. A number of witnesses told investigators they knew Diaz Solis was distributing meth in Eastern Washington. The witnesses included people who registered cars in their names for Diaz Solis or his wife, and who transported drugs for him.