The Oregon leader of a methamphetamine smuggling ring with ties to Mexican cartels has been sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison.
Daniel Ramirez, 43, of Hillsboro was arrested at his home in fall 2015 during a series of police raids to round up dozens of people tied to an operation that authorities said brought hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine into the area.
It was "one of the largest takedowns of its kind here in Oregon," prosecutors said in court documents.
Ramirez was the "focal point" of the large-scale trafficking operation based in Washington County and linked to cartels including Los Caballeros Templarios, according to the government's sentencing memo.
He "admitted that he would receive five to 10 pounds of methamphetamine every two to three weeks from his suppliers in Mexico," the memo said. "He also claimed to be a daily user of methamphetamine and that he has a high tolerance."
Ramirez would distribute the drugs to dealers throughout metro Portland and Salem, prosecutors said.
Investigators identified more than 50 members of the organization, including 35 from Oregon, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Twenty-four people were indicted on drug charges in federal court.
Investigators also found a large cockfighting operation in Washington County during the raids.
Ramirez bought roosters, attached knives and gaffs to their legs and entered them into fights throughout Oregon, prosecutors said.
He pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act and was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Portland to 15 years and eight months in prison. He also was ordered to pay $100,000 and will face five years of supervised release when he leaves prison.
Ramirez had an abusive and chaotic childhood that led him into drugs and alcohol, said his attorney, Andrew Bates. His extensive criminal record included transporting marijuana and methamphetamine, Bates said in court documents.
He had been released from prison in 2013 and was getting clean, working as a landscaper and living with his sister when he suffered a setback that drove him back to daily meth use, Bates said. Ramirez learned his parental rights had been terminated to his young daughter while had been in prison, the lawyer said.
"It was a short step from there to dealing the product once again in order to support his habit," Bates said.
In a letter to the court, Ramirez apologized to his parents and other family members and asked for forgiveness "for selling drugs in society."
"I started hanging around the wrong crowd and pretty soon I was using and selling to pay for my drug use," he said. "The more I used, the more I had to sell. I know there is no excuse for my actions, your honor, and I take full responsibility."
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