Two get 14 years for meth trafficking

After they paid $34,000 for drug, one led police on chase, threw bags in river

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

Two Southwest Washington men who trafficked more than 3 pounds of methamphetamine in March 2011 were sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court to 14 years in prison, according to a news release by the U.S. Attorney's Office Western District of Washington.

Jesus Ramirez-Lucio, 33, of Washougal and Steven McCracken, 32, of Kelso also will be required to serve five years of supervised release after they get out of prison.

"Methamphetamine destroys families," said U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton, according to the news release. "The community has a right to protect itself from those who would ply them with methamphetamine."

Ramirez-Lucio and McCracken were convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in October 2012, following a six-day jury trial. Ramirez-Lucio also was convicted of distribution of methamphetamine, and McCracken was convicted of methamphetamine possession with intent to distribute.

A police informant alerted members of the Clark Vancouver Regional Drug Task Force that the two men were planning a drug deal, according to court documents and testimony at trial.

The men met at a Kelso residence on March 25, 2011, where they paid more than $34,000 for 3 pounds of methamphetamine. After the transaction, the men left the house, and law enforcement followed them. Police pulled McCracken over on Interstate 5. As they approached the driver's window, McCracken pulled out into traffic, leading police on a chase at speeds up to 90 mph. On the state Highway 432 bridge near Longview, he pulled to the side of the road, left the car running and threw bags of methamphetamine into the Cowlitz River. He was arrested, and other officers retrieved bags of meth floating in the river. Some of the drugs were damaged, but one of the bags was intact.

Ramirez-Lucio was arrested as he traveled back to Vancouver with more than $34,000 in cash in a shopping bag in his car. In a search of his home, police recovered four firearms and a marijuana-growing operation with more than 700 plants.

McCracken has been convicted three prior times in state court for distributing methamphetamine: Cowlitz County Superior Court in 1999, Clark County Superior Court in 2002 and Josephine County Circuit Court in Oregon in 2006.

The case was investigated by the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force, which includes officers from the FBI, Vancouver Police Department, the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force and the Clark Vancouver Regional Drug Task Force.The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Werner and Michael Lang.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts; http://facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com.