This week, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed charges against six individuals suspected to be involved in a recent major Burien Police Department/King County Sheriff’s Office drug bust out of Burien.

As we previously reported, over a year’s worth of hard work and investigation concluded Dec. 22, 2022, when detectives in Precinct 4/Burien Police Special Emphasis Team made one final seizure in ‘Operation P-22,’ one of the region’s biggest drug busts.

This was one of the agency’s largest seizures, and was also Narcotics Detection K9 Quinn’s first career operation.

Police say that overall, 400 pounds of methamphetamine and nearly 500,000 fentanyl tablets were seized during this investigation, along with cash, guns and cars.

All told, this bust was valued at around $10 million dollars.

“I am proud to lead an agency with such exceptional deputies, detectives and law enforcement professionals,” said King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall. “Our commitment to public safety never wanes and this historic seizure is evidence of our tireless effort to keep our communities safe.”

King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office field charges against:

    • Sabas E Salomon Castro: Conspiracy to Commit Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act
    • Rafael Salomon-Orduno: Conspiracy to Commit Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act
    • Jose M Castro-Urias: Conspiracy to Commit Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act and Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act
    • Mario N Renteria-Gutierrez: Conspiracy to Commit Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act and Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act
    • Jesus A Herrera-Ungson: Conspiracy to Commit Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act and Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act
    • Edward A Escamilla-Benitez: Conspiracy to Commit Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act and Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act

Prosecutors say that defendant Sabas E Salomon Castro and his co-defendants are a part of a drug trafficking organization that are distributing large quantities of lethal narcotics throughout the greater King County area and beyond.

Charging docs say that involved drugs include M-30 Fentanyl pills, Fentanyl, Methamphetamine, Heroin and Cocaine.

“The group has access to significant resources to include large quantities of cash (as reflected by the amount of money seized on their persons at the time of arrest as well as the street value of the drugs), people, and an endless supply of vehicles that are used to pick up the drugs from southern states and return them to Washington,” prosecutors said.

Prior service of search warrants that resulted in the seizure of drugs and cash, as mentioned in the certification for probable cause, only momentarily disrupted the group as they were quickly able to obtain a resupply and get back to business utilizing new members as charged here.

“Removing lethal narcotics from the street and stopping drug trafficking is a top priority for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney-elect Leesa Manion. “I am grateful for the hard work of the team of prosecutors involved, and the considerable efforts of the King County Sheriff’s Office and Burien Police Department.”

At last week’s first appearance hearings, Prosecutors asked for $2 million bail on each suspect, and a judge set bail at the following amounts:

    • Sabas E Salomon Castro – $1 million
    • Rafael A Salomon-Orduno – $25K after some indication from defense that defendant had been trafficked
    • Jose M Castro-Urias – $500K
    • Mario Renteria-Gutierrez – $10K
    • Jesus A Herrera-Ungson – $500K
    • Edward A Escamilla-Benitez – $500K

The next court date is arraignment, scheduled for Jan. 9, 2023 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center.

Drug possession cases — even cases of people using meth and heroin on the streets — have not been felony crimes since the State Supreme Court’s Blake decision in February 2021.

However, King County prosecutors are still charging drug dealers, most often fentanyl dealers.

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Scott Schaefer

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