SEATTLE — A 31-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 27 years in prison, according to the Department of Justice.
Cristian Berrelleza-Verduzco pleaded guilty to drug and weapons charges in April of 2013.
Officials said Berrelleza-Verduzco and his brother Victor were leaders of a large Mexico based drug and gun trafficking rings that has ties to the violent Beltran-Leyva drug cartel.
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said all three of the Berrelleza-Verduzco brothers are imprisoned in the U.S.
“This sentence helps protect us from a very dangerous man and organization. This defendant raked in massive profits from the scourge of heroin addiction. He and his family sought to control the entire supply chain, from growing the poppies, to manufacturing the heroin, to selling it in this District,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “And just as they moved their drugs north, they wanted to move high-powered weapons back to Mexico to cause further cartel related violence.”
Authorities arrested Berrelleza-Verduzco and 29 others in March of 2012. Agents seized heroin, methamphetamine and more than a dozen firearms including military-style assault rifles.
“From his base in an unassuming Snohomish County neighborhood, Berrelleza-Verduzco ran a multimillion dollar heroin and meth trafficking operation that took multiple federal, state and local agencies in three states to dismantle.” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Seattle. “He fed the destructive habit of Washington addicts and fueled Mexican cartel violence with drug money. Incarcerating Berrelleza-Verduzco and his co-conspirators is a significant victory for public safety, especially considering the massive increase in local teens dying of heroin overdoses in recent years.”
Thirty-four people were charged in the case — most sentenced to ten or more years in prison. Crisitan’s brothers were also sentenced to prison — Victor for 20 years an Ivan for 7 years.