Partner in meth smuggling plot sentenced to drug treatment

PORT ANGELES — Jose L. Orozco has been sentenced to drug treatment for his role in a plot to smuggle methamphetamine into the Clallam Bay Corrections Center.

Orozco, 39, of Rochester received a residential drug offender sentencing alternative (DOSA) in lieu of prison Wednesday and was ordered to pay the mandatory $500 in legal fees.

“This is your one shot, Mr. Orozco,” Superior Court Judge Christopher Melly said in a half-hour sentencing hearing.

“Thank you, your honor,” said Orozco, who was scheduled for a Wednesday bed date at a Lewis County inpatient treatment center.

Clallam County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney April King had requested a six-month prison sentence for Orozco to be followed by one year of community custody. The recommended sentence included a treatment requirement and $2,700 in financial obligations.

Orozco pleaded guilty Nov. 6 to one count of possession of a controlled substance in connection with a September plot to smuggle 60.9 grams of methamphetamine into the Clallam Bay prison.

Investigators said Orozco and Arturo A. Ramirez of Tacoma arranged to pay a corrections officer to conceal tightly-wrapped methamphetamine inside two burritos and deliver the paper lunch bag to prison inmates.

Ramirez, 26, was swarmed by officers after placing the bag inside an undercover Olympic Peninsula Narcotic Enforcement Team vehicle during a Sept. 12 OPNET sting operation on Ediz Hook.

Orozco, who helped arrange the transfer, was arrested after fleeing to the north side of Ediz Hook, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Ramirez pleaded guilty to one count of delivery of a controlled substance and was sentenced Oct. 30 to six years in prison.

Orozco was originally charged with delivery of a controlled substance.

“The reason for the reduced charge is that in reviewing the discovery, Mr. Orozco’s role was not as active as that of Mr. Ramirez’s,” King said at Orozco’s sentencing.

“Mr. Orozco placed phone calls in English to the corrections guard, and basically set up the meeting time and place of the transfer.”

The methamphetamine had a street value of $4,872 and a prison value of $24,360, OPNET Sgt. Tom Kuch has said.

Orozco was released from Clallam Bay Corrections Center in February after serving nearly 17 years for first-degree robbery and third-degree assault.

He had also been convicted in California for taking a motor vehicle without permission, court papers said.

Defense attorney Alex Stalker of Clallam Public Defender requested a residential DOSA for Orozco, saying his client has struggled with a methamphetamine addiction since he was juvenile.

“It does not excuse the previous convictions, or his current conduct, but I think it goes a ways to explaining them,” Stalker said.

Stalker said Orozco lacked to skills to deal with adverse scenarios after his release and “got sucked backed in to controlled substances.”

Orozco said he read self-help books in prison to try to better his life. He said he is helping his wife raise five children, ages 7 to 12, and has a steady job at a warehouse.

Orozco apologized to the court for his actions, saying he is ready to cut ties with his friends from prison.

“I have to choose, and I choose my family over those long-term friendships,” Orozco said.

“I would just ask the court and the people to grant me this opportunity to get this help that I really need.”

King maintained her objection to a residential DOSA sentence for Orozco.

“It’s sort of like ‘Let’s feel sorry for Mr. Orozco,’ really,” King said. “And I don’t mean to be harsh or disrespectful, but that’s really the pitch here.

“Even with a place to live, food to eat, a job, a wife and family support, he still elected to do this,” King added.

“So it’s easy to come before the court after he’s been caught and say ‘I’m really sorry. I wish I hadn’t done this.’ ”

Stalker said Orozco felt compelled to help arrange the sale because he owed a favor to someone inside the prison.

“He made a very bad decision at the time,” Stalker said.

“We all know that. He knows that.”

The state Department of Corrections concluded in a Nov. 16 report that Orozco was eligible for a residential DOSA.

Melly said Orozco appeared to be sincere and had demonstrated “some motivation to be a different person than the one siting in that prison.”

“I’m going to give you the opportunity to become that different person with the assistance of a treatment program,” Melly said.


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected]

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