Oregon death becomes federal drug case for five

By Paul Suarez, Columbian web producer

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Five citizens of Mexico were indicted on federal charges for conspiracy to distribute heroin that resulted in the death of an Oregon woman.

Sergio Quezada Lopez, 33; Braulio Acosta Mendoza, 34; Jose Romo Gonzalez, 22; Jose Aldan Soto, 30; and Julian Hernandez Castillo, 31, were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin resulting in death of Laurin Putnam, 21, of Keizer, Ore., and with other indictments related to distribution of heroin in Oregon and Washington, said S. Amanda Marshall, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

If convicted, with prior felony drug convictions, the statutory mandatory minimum prison term is life with no possibility of release and up to a $20,000,000 fine, Marshall said. With no prior felony convictions, the minimum prison term is 20 years and up to a $10,000,000 fine.

Federal charges stem from an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency and several regional law enforcement groups, including the Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force.

Putnam, 21, was found dead from an apparent heroin overdose April 16 at her Keizer home. After her death, investigators made several arrests in Vancouver and in Washington, Multnomah and Marion counties in Oregon, a DOJ bulletin said. Investigators seized more than 4 pounds of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, two guns and more than $20,000.

The investigation is ongoing.