Major Drug Bust Targets Burien Restaurant
BURIEN â€“ A Burien restaurant called the El Flamingo (according to this website, it may be located in Boulevard Park on SW 120th) apparently served as headquarters for a major drug operation that was busted Friday.
A 10-month investigation by a law enforcement team, dubbed Operation “Pink Tiger,” resulted in several arrests and the seizure of about 40 pounds of cocaine, a pound of heroin, guns, methamphetamine and about $240,000 in cash.
The operation was a joint effort carried out by the King County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Six suspects were arrested late Thursday and charged today with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine. The arrests bring to 17 the total number of defendants charged in the case. One charged defendant remains a fugitive.
The operation took it’s name from the original target of the probe, who went by the nickname “Tigre,” and the fact that cocaine was wrapped in distinctive pink cellophane.
The first arrests and indictments in the case occurred in late March 2008, with the arrest of 10 people for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin.
This investigation used court-authorized wiretaps, which were left in place even after the first round of arrests. The wiretaps lead to additional evidence which resulted in the additional arrests.
Last night, law enforcement executed seven search warrants and seized more than 16 kilos of cocaine, three guns and more than $203,000 in cash. Four cars also were seized.
An additional person was arrested for involvement in the drug conspiracy, but later was released when he was found to be a juvenile.
Eight search warrants were served on March 25, which resulted in ten arrests, seizure of two kilos of cocaine and a pound of heroin. In addition law enforcement seized three guns, eight cars and $40,000 in cash.
The drug-trafficking organization was based in Burien and had direct ties to Sinaloa, Mexico, said Special Agent-in-Charge Arnold R. Moorin.
“The organization was large, well-established and was distributing more than 30 kilograms of cocaine per month in the greater Seattle area, Moorin said.
Domingo Bailon-Yanez, 30, of Burien, was identified as the alleged leader of that distribution ring. El Flamingo Restaurant is owned by a relative of Bailon-Yanez, and both the manager of the restaurant, Rigoberto Sabalsa-Lozano, 43, of SeaTac, and bartender Carla Rodriguez-Romero, 26, of Kent, have been charged in the case.
Conspiracy to distribute the amounts of drugs involved in this case is punishable by a mandatory minimum 10 years to life in prison and a $4 million fine.
Use of a juvenile to facilitate a drug crime can add an enhancement to the sentencing range, under federal law.