For Immediate Release
Leader of Large Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Conspiracy to Distribute Large Quantities of Methamphetamine and Fentanyl in Wenatchee and Moses Lake areas of Eastern Washington
YAKIMA, Wash. — Vanessa R. Waldref, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Edward James Salvador, 41, of Wenatchee, Washington, was sentenced after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and 400 grams or more of fentanyl. U.S. District Judge Mary K. Dimke imposed a sentence of 300 months’ imprisonment to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.
According to court documents, Salvador, aka Droopy, was identified as the leader of a drug trafficking organization operating between the Wenatchee and Moses Lake areas. Investigators with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Columbia River Drug Task Force (CRDTF), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Moses Lake Police Department (MLPD) used a range of investigative techniques, including tracking warrants, controlled buys and cooperating defendant interviews to gather information about how the organization operated. Investigators learned Salvador was a Sureno gang member out of California who had relocated to the area after being released from California Department of Corrections custody.
The investigation revealed Salvador’s operation was distributing a very large amount of fentanyl-laced pills obtained from Bakersfield, California, into the Chelan and Douglas county areas with the help of multiple other individuals, most of whom were also Sureno gang members. Salvador would have individuals “audition” for the organization to see if they were cut out to work for him and make money. Salvador would pick up thousands of fentanyl pills as well as 15 to 20 pounds of methamphetamine from his supplier in California several times a month.
In early 2022, investigators learned that, in addition to trafficking large amounts of fentanyl-laced pills, Salvador was working with other high-level drug traffickers to set up a location in Moses Lake to cook methamphetamine.
In late March 2022, Salvador met with other high-level drug traffickers in Moses Lake. The group discussed losing money because they were not moving enough drugs. The source of supply, who lived in California, committed to increasing the amount of methamphetamine being produced.
The next day, information was received that Salvador had acquired 15 pounds of ephedrine, which is used in the production of methamphetamine, and the chemicals would be used to produce methamphetamine at a compound in Moses Lake. The drug trafficker who owned the compound would get to keep half of the drugs produced in exchange for letting the group cook methamphetamine on his property, as well as providing other materials for the drug production.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Dimke noted that while Salvador had a troubled childhood and had a period of sobriety prior to his involvement in leading this organization, he returned to criminality in “epic fashion.” Judge Dimke stated Salvador exercised organization and control over an entire area and did so in a fashion and with such amount of violence that scares an entire community.
“Mr. Salvador spread a staggering amount of illegal narcotics into our communities, including by distributing as much as 20,000 fentanyl pills to his network of drug traffickers every couple weeks. Mr. Salvador also attempted to set up an operation to manufacture large quantities of methamphetamine in the Moses Lake area,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “My office is committed to shutting down dangerous drug trafficking organizations that pump poison into our communities and neighborhoods. I’m thankful for all our federal, state and local partners, as well as federal prosecutors, who worked together seamlessly to put a stop to Mr. Salvador’s operation.”
“The scourge of narcotics has touched every corner of this nation, and we are proud to have worked with our regional partners to put a halt to Mr. Salvador’s illicit ventures,” said Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “HSI will use every resource at its disposal to eliminate the economies of scale created by these operations and remove these deadly drugs from our communities.”
“Mr. Salvador did everything under his power to grow his drug trafficking network in central Washington,” said ATF Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Blais. “We will always work to investigate those who are causing grave harm to our communities. This sentence sends a strong message that these actions will not be tolerated by ATF and our law enforcement partners.”
This case was investigated by the Homeland Security Investigations, the Columbia River Drug Task Force, consisting of the Chelan County Sheriff, Douglas County Sheriff, East Wenatchee Police Department, and the Wenatchee Police Department. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Moses Lake Police Department, and the Grant County Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team also assisted in the investigation. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Caitlin Baunsgard.