Crime - Sacto 911

Federal jury convicts Sacramento-area drug trafficking ringleader

A man characterized by prosecutors as a key figure in Sacramento-area drug trafficking has been convicted by a federal jury.

Israel “Puck” Washington, 41, of Sacramento was found guilty Thursday of all 10 counts in the indictment for trafficking heroin, cocaine, cocaine base and methamphetamine, according to a U.S. attorney’s office news release.

“Under the Smart on Crime initiative, the U.S. Department of Justice has refocused its narcotics prosecution efforts against the most significant and dangerous offenders,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said in a written statement. “Washington is one of those persons.”

According to court documents and evidence presented during a five-day trial, Washington, in 2010, distributed large amounts of cocaine base, cocaine and heroin in the Sacramento area. He used various businesses as a front to conceal and disguise his extensive drug trafficking and operated a large “crew” of gang members as his distribution organization, authorities said.

During an investigation in 2010 and 2011, one of Washington’s businesses, Wet Ways Auto Body and Paint Shop, was identified as a place where Washington and his associates conducted drug deals.

In 2012, an undercover operative bought heroin and methamphetamine from Washington’s organization. Those operating under Washington included co-defendants Deyonte Spears, 27, of Oakland; and Sacramento residents Tyrone Weathersby, 47; Anthony Sanchez, 31; and Myron Meadows, 44.

On May 21, 2013, the Drug Enforcement Administration served search warrants at two Sacramento-area stash pads controlled by Washington. Agents seized a stolen firearm and more than 3 pounds of heroin at stash pads maintained by the group.

Federal authorities said charges are pending in a separate indictment against Washington that stems from a 2011 homicide investigation. When deputies executed a search warrant at his residence, they discovered three semi-automatic pistols, including one with a high-capacity magazine. The indictment alleges that Washington is prohibited from possessing firearms because of four prior felony convictions for drug trafficking and assault with a deadly weapon. A status conference for that case will be set in the future.

Washington is to be sentenced Oct. 1 by U.S District Judge Morrison C. England Jr.

Washington’s co-defendants previously pleaded guilty. Weathersby was sentenced in October 2014 to 18 months in prison. Spears is to be sentenced July 16, Meadows on Aug. 13 and Sanchez on Sept. 10.

The case resulted from an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Sacramento and Vallejo police departments, and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.