Crime

Drug trips to Mexico land Pasco man in federal prison

A Pasco man was sentenced to 27 years in prison at a hearing at the Spokane U.S. Courthouse on March 9.
A Pasco man was sentenced to 27 years in prison at a hearing at the Spokane U.S. Courthouse on March 9. Courtesy U.S. Marshals Service

A Pasco man was sentenced to 27 years in prison by a federal judge in Spokane on Friday.

Jose Martin Aguilar, 37, pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration identified Aguilar as a member of a drug trafficking organization bringing meth from Mexico to the Tri-City and Spokane areas. He was one of eight defendants in the case.

His role was to ensure the monthly delivery of about 60 to 70 pounds from Mexico north to Eastern Washington, according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

On April 20, 2016, Aguilar got into the vehicle of an undercover officer at the Spokane Valley Mall. The officer had arranged to purchase meth from Ruben “Juan” Espinoza-Guerrero, who was living in Mexico and directing the criminal organization, according to court documents.

Aguilar handed over a half pound of meth and accepted $3,500, documents said.

A search of Aguilar’s Tri-City residence turned up $1,300, a handgun and two loaded magazine clips that had been reported stolen in Montana.

One cooperating defendant in the case said Aguilar would regularly go to Mexico to deliver money to members of the criminal organization.

Another cooperating defendant said Aguilar had participated in a drug-related “hit” on a member who fell out of favor with leaders of the criminal organization, court documents show. The defendant also said Aguilar would keep the organization’s meth at his home.

Aguilar argued in court documents that the weapon found at his home could not be tied to him. He also said he was not involved in the shooting, and no charges were filed related to it.

Multiple family members and coworkers of Aguilar submitted letters to the court, asking for leniency. They said he had worked for nearly 20 years at Columbia Basin Blends in Pasco.

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