Drug ring leader pleads guilty | U.S. District Court

The leader of a ring that distributed a variety of illegal drugs from Mexico to Canada and  east across the United States pleaded guilty this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Seattle to  conspiracy and money laundering charges.

Drew Yim, 38, of Burien faces a  mandatory minimum 10 years in prison and up to life in prison when he is sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in May 2012.  Additionally, Yim is forfeiting to the government millions of dollars in cash and real estate that constituted some of the proceeds of his  drug distribution operation.  Some of the money was seized from Yim or his associates between December 2009, and May 2011, while the Drug Enforcement Administration led an investigation into the drug trafficking organization.

“This defendant thought he could ‘have it all,’ and he poisoned our communities without regard for the lives he was damaging,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “This was a lengthy investigation, over a large geographic region involving law enforcement in both the U.S. and Canada.  From top to bottom this criminal organization has been put out of business.”

According to the facts Yim admits in his plea agreement, he lead a criminal enterprise with dozens of conspirators.  Using as many as 18 cell phones at one time, he directed the shipment of cocaine and methamphetamine from California into Washington and across the border into Canada.  Yim also directed the importation and distribution of MDMA (ecstasy) and BC Bud from Canada into Western Washington and then to other destinations across the U.S.

For example in June of 2010, Yim arranged for a 19 kilo load of cocaine to be transported to Canada.  In March and May 2011, Yim arranged two more cocaine loads totaling 36 kilos to be transported into Canada.  Canadian authorities seized some of the cocaine.  Over five months in 2010, YIM arranged for more than 700 pounds of marijuana to be transported into the U.S. in six different loads.

When Yim’s home was searched in May 2011, agents recovered more than 7 kilos of MDMA – just a small portion of the MDMA he trafficked over the course of the investigation.  Yim admits transporting another 7 kilos of ecstasy as part of the conspiracy as well as drug proceeds from ecstasy of more than $300,000.

As part of the plea agreement, Yim is forfeiting $1.4 million in cash that was seized during the course of the investigation.  Yim is forfeiting six vehicles, a boat, 14 pieces of real property – including 10 properties in the Spokane area, as well as property in Burien, Bothell, Enumclaw and Renton, and four Rolex watches.  All of the items seized were purchased with proceeds of the drug conspiracy.

“This criminal group is a classic example of drug traffickers who run business type models distributing multiple illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes. “Millions of dollars of drug proceeds were laundered by the defendant who profited with real estate valued in excess of $3 million.”

Yim and 13 others were arrested May 24, 2011.  Four additional defendants are fugitives – two are pending extradition from Canada.  Of the defendants in custody, all but two have pleaded guilty.  Yim’s wife, Svetlana Angel Yim, and Ruben Camacho-Contreras remain scheduled for trial on March 5, 2012.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.

The investigation was lead by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Seattle Police

Department with assistance from Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) and

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HIS).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Roger Rogoff, Jerrod Patterson, and Richard Cohen.

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