Washington State Casinos Facilitated Money Laundering by Drug Trafficking Gangs in Excess of $1 Million

Two individuals linked to a violent drug-trafficking organization were handed prison sentences by a federal judge this week for laundering more than $1 million of the group’s meth, heroin, and fentanyl proceeds via Washington State casinos.

Jose Arrondondo-Valdez, 27, commonly known as “Primo,” was given a nine-year term on drug trafficking charges while his cousin, Yvette Olguin, 40, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for money laundering conspiracy. The alleged ringleader, Cesar Valdez-Sanudo, was sentenced to 15 years in January for related offenses.

Arrondondo-Valdez and Valdez-Sanudo were arrested together at the Snoqualmie Casino, east of Seattle, where they intended to confront a fellow member of the gang who had allegedly failed to pay a drug debt. Three loaded guns, one of which was equipped with a homemade silencer, were discovered inside their vehicle.

The 11 indicted members of the group were apprehended following a lengthy DEA wiretap investigation. Investigators seized 143 pounds of meth, 15 pounds of heroin, and 35,000 fentanyl pills, which had been shipped from Mexico to Washington in boxes disguised as household items.

The first to be taken into custody was a courier named Fausto Paz, who was intercepted by federal agents as he crossed the Oregon-Washington border. Paz was due to deliver a shipment of meth to the compound where Valdez-Sanudo and Olguin lived in Arlington, WA. When the courier failed to appear, Valdez-Sanudo believed he had stolen the drugs and ordered him to be tortured according to wiretap evidence.

When the compound was searched, a large amount of drugs were found buried underground, as well as 10 firearms. Prosecutors revealed that Olguin had played a key role in the organization’s activities, by arranging hotel and travel bookings, laundering cash through casinos, and purchasing properties and luxury vehicles.

Among those already convicted is Wayne Frisby, aka “Mac Wayne,” a legally blind rapper who was featured in an Amazon Prime documentary. He was sentenced to six years in August 2022 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.