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00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8d680000Drug distribution rings operate a sophisticated export business along the freeways that stretch from southern California and Arizona up to the Canadian border, smuggling drugs across the border and then distributing them up and down the West Coast through a broad array of sub-contractors, unwitting accomplices and cartel deputies within our communities. We looked into an industry that reaches every city and every small town in every state of the West. In a collaborative series called Border To Border Drugs, Fronteras: The Changing America Desk and the Northwest News Network explore these distribution networks, the smuggling strategies and trends, and the devastating impact of America's insatiable appetite for illegal substances.

Leader Of West Coast Trafficking Ring Gets 27-Year Sentence

Court Exhibit: US v. Anchondo

One the ringleaders of a sprawling West Coast drug and gun trafficking ring has been sentenced to 27 years in federal prison.

U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said Friday this cartel-linked group took in “massive profits from the scourge of heroin addiction.”

The case involved three brothers from Mexico who ran a smuggling ring that federal authorities say had ties to a cartel on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Heroin and meth from Mexico were smuggled north to the Seattle area. The cash proceeds and guns flowed back south.

Federal wiretaps helped make the case.

Federal agents pounced in March of 2012. Ultimately, 34 people were charged including the three brothers. One of the brothers was sentenced to seven years in federal prison. Another got 20 years. Now the third brother, Cristian Berrelleza-Verduzco, has been sentenced to 27 years.

The father of the brothers remains a fugitive in Mexico.

We first reported on the case last year in our series called “Border-To-Border.”

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."