PORT ANGELES — A second woman who was arrested in May for her role in what law enforcement has called one of the primary drug trafficking organizations on the North Olympic Peninsula has pleaded guilty in federal court.
Elizabeth Ann McKean pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Friday to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years and a mandatory minimum of 5 years.
The government is recommending 60 months in prison and sentencing is set for Feb. 22. The government has agreed not to prosecute any other known offenses McKean might have committed related to this investigation.
McKean is one of three people charged in federal court after an extensive Drug Enforcement Administration and Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team investigation that culminated in May.
Nicolas “Nico” Orozco-Cruz, who, according to court papers, was the head of the drug trafficking organization, is awaiting trial. His attorney has asked the court to delay the trial until March as they review more than 900 pages of documents in preparation for the trial.
Jessica Elen Christman pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and as part of her agreement was accepted into the federal Drug Reentry Alternative Model (DREAM) program. Her sentencing is deferred until she either completes the program or is terminated from the program.
In McKean’s plea agreement, she admits she worked with Orozco-Cruz and others to distribute controlled substances.
Court documents said that after agents received McKean’s phone number from a confidential source, an undercover agent called and texted her to arrange a buy.
McKean admits that June 28, 2017, she sold 112.76 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover DEA agent.
During the buy, she told the agent she had four other “trusted” regular customers.
On July 12, 2017, McKean delivered 222.6 grams of methamphetamine to the undercover agent. Surveillance agents observed her at the home she shared with Orozco-Cruz prior to the buy.
Orozco-Cruz, McKean and Christman were each arrested in May following a year-long Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team and Drug Enforcement Administration probe into Orozco-Cruz’s drug trafficking organization, which officials believed was the primary supplier of Mexican-produced heroin and methamphetamine on the Olympic Peninsula.
Orozco-Cruz, who court papers say was in the United States illegally, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, six counts of distribution of a controlled substance and alien in possession of a firearm.
Orozco-Cruz was arrested May 23 at his house at the Welcome Inn RV Park in Port Angeles. McKean and Christman were subsequently arrested in other parts of Clallam County.
When agents searched their shared home, they found digital scales, more than $16,000 in cash, and a Ruger 10/22 rifle.
While they were conducting the search McKean drove into the driveway. When she saw law enforcement she fled on U.S. Highway 101 at about 100 miles per hour, escaping arrest initially.
She turned herself in the next day.
During the investigation, members of the drug trafficking organization had been “hypersensitive” to police presence, but investigators gained information from several people who admitted to purchasing drugs from them, court records say.
Records say McKean focused on distributing drugs to the western most parts of the North Olympic Peninsula in areas such as Neah Bay, Sekiu and Forks while Orozco-Cruz focused on the eastern side in such areas as Port Angeles and Sequim.
Christman admitted in her plea agreement to selling heroin for Orozco-Cruz. As part of her plea deal, Christman agreed to forfeit all property used or obtained while dealing drugs for Orozco-Cruz, including the $2,722 that law enforcement seized from her home in May.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].