Feds, drug task force seized 16 pounds of meth from El Parral night club operator, police say

Seizure, two arrests come after several undercover buys, say court papers

By John Branton , Marissa Harshman and Laura McVicker

Published:

 

Authorities say they seized more than 16 pounds of methamphetamine following a search of several Vancouver locations, including a downtown Vancouver restaurant.

Among the places searched was El Parral Mexican Restaurant and Night Club, 704 Main St.

Arrested on federal charges were Ricardo Estrada, 43, of Vancouver and Francisco Cervantes, 47, of Vancouver. The two made a first appearance Thursday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

Federal and Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force officers were investigating Estrada since May, when he allegedly provided a sample of meth to a federal confidential source in El Parral. Then, between June and July, Estrada allegedly sold nearly 1 pound of crystal meth and a .45-caliber handgun to a confidential source, according to a news release from the Drug Enforcement Administration in Seattle and the U.S. District Court complaint document.

On Wednesday, authorities conducting surveillance on Estrada and Cervantes spotted them leave a residence in a van. Authorities initiated a traffic stop on Interstate 5 near exit 72, in Lewis County just south of Chehalis.

Authorities reportedly found 16 pounds of meth in a concealed compartment in the van.

“These arrests are a significant blow to a large-scale drug trafficking organization in Clark County,” Drug Task Force Cmdr. Mike Cooke said in the news release. “This has been a long investigation and we’re happy to see it come to a successful conclusion.”

Estrada operated the restaurant and night club in Vancouver, officials said.

Estrada is charged with conspiracy to distribute meth and carrying/possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. Cervantes is charged with conspiracy to distribute meth.

In November 2004, Estrada pleaded guilty of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death in August 2003 of 23-year-old Phany Wayne Soun, an Orchards resident. Estrada said the gun went off accidentally, but he entered a Newton plea admitting there was evidence for a jury to convict him.