Renton man sentenced to 10 years in prison for connection to cartel drug ring

The 31-year-old man was a debt collector and drug distributor who acted as a translator for leaders of drug ring.

A Renton man has been sentenced by a U.S. District Court in Seattle to 10 years in prison for his role in a cartel-connected drug distribution ring.

On Nov. 22, Benjamin Fuentes, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour, who imposed the prison term and an additional four years of supervised release to follow incarceration.

According to records filed in the case, Fuentes worked as a drug distributor and debt collector for the drug trafficking organization that was connected to the violent Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) in Mexico. Fuentes also served as a translator for leaders of the drug trafficking group.

“This defendant was immersed in the violence of this drug trafficking ring – at one point firing a gun into the air and threatening to kill everyone inside a residence as part of his debt collection threats,” U.S. Attorney Nick Brown announced Nov. 23.

Fuentes was indicted in July 2020, along with more than a dozen co-conspirators following an extensive, wire-tap investigation.

During a wiretap, investigators repeatedly heard Fuentes discussing both drug distribution and obtaining firearms for violent debt collection on behalf of the organization

Fuentes and his co-conspirators distributed massive amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl pills into King, Pierce, Lewis and Snohomish counties, said Brown.

When agents moved in on the drug ring they found methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl pills in a residence Fuentes shared with a drug trafficking organization (DTO) leader. They also recovered four firearms, ballistic vests and $28,000 in cash.

In asking for a 10-year sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Amy Jaquette wrote to the court, “This organization is one of the most violent our District has prosecuted. Given the extent of Fuentes’ involvement in drug distribution and his repeated role in violent debt collection for the conspiracy, a lengthy sentence is needed … Fuentes also played an integral role in the DTO’s drug distribution – most notably, picking up a shipment of methamphetamine and 7,000 fentanyl pills for redistribution in our District. That quantity of fentanyl pills put innumerable lives at risk.”

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Tacoma Resident Office in partnership with Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement Team (TNET), Kent Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, SeaTac Police Department, Thurston County Narcotics Team (TNT), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).