Monday, September 29, 2008

Drug smuggling suspect pleads guilty to lesser charges


TACOMA -- One of three brothers accused of running a southwest Washington methamphetamine ring has pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

Ulises "Mono" Barragan-Mendoza of Lacey pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and to being an alien in possession of a firearm. Charges of conspiracy to distribute meth and to engage in money laundering were dropped.

Investigators believe Barragan and his two brothers from Arteaga, Mexico, led a group that brought large amounts of meth into the country from Mexico.

In raids in April from the Olympic Peninsula to the Longview-Kelso area, 22 people were arrested and authorities seized cars, $100,000 in cash, 41 guns and 20 pounds of meth.

One brother of Barragan also was arrested. The other is believed to be in Mexico.

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