PORT ANGELES — A 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.
Jessica Elen Christman pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years and a mandatory minimum of 5 years.
She was one of three people arrested following 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, and Elizabeth Ann McKean are both awaiting trial.
By entering into the federal Drug Reentry Alternative Model (DREAM) program, sentencing is deferred until she either completes the program or is terminated from the program.
The program lasts no more than two years and requires substance abuse treatment, frequent testing for alcohol and illicit drugs and monitoring.
If successful in the program, Christman’s charge will be dropped.
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.
McKean is indicted on conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and three counts of distribution of a controlled substance.
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.
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@example.com.