Standing - Cocaine Bust Drugs Money Crime

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SPOKANE, Wash. – A Yakima man federal prosecutors described as the leader of a cocaine-trafficking ring was sentenced to 19 years in federal prison Thursday.

Marcos Ramirez-Mercado, 46, pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and possessing a firearm as part of the conspiracy. He was sentenced during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Spokane, , according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Ramirez-Mercado, authorities said, was the leader of a conspiracy that involved smuggling cocaine in drywall compound boxes from Yakima to Spokane. When he was arrested in June 2017, authorities found three drywall boxes containing a kilogram of cocaine – about 2.2 pounds – each, four boxes of .223-caliber ammunition and almost $2,000 in cash, the release said.

While searching his Yakima home, authorities found a kilogram of cocaine, $550,000 in cash, eight guns, ammunition and digital scales, the release said.

Following his prison sentence, Ramirez-Mercado, an undocumented resident, likely will be deported to Mexico, the release said.

His arrest was the result of a three-year investigation that resulted in charges being filed against 21 other people.

The FBI and officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, state Department of Corrections, the Spokane County sheriff’s office and the Yakima police department participated in the investigation.