A former King County jail guard, two inmates and three other people, including a Kent woman, were allegedly involved in a scheme to smuggle methamphetamine and fentanyl into the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle.
All six were indicted by a federal grand jury for five felonies including bribery, drug possession with intent to distribute and conspiracy.
According to the indictment, Mosses Ramos, 39, of Milton, a former jail guard, between March and May 2023, allegedly accepted bribes to bring methamphetamine and fentanyl into the jail for the benefit of inmates Michael Anthony Barquet, 37, and Francisco Montero, 25.
Montero remains in the jail awaiting trial on murder charges filed in 2021 in the 2018 killing of two teen girls in Burien. Montero already had pleaded guilty in 2019 to a 2017 gang killing in Burien. Barquet served time between March 2022 and July 2023. Jail records didn’t list his charges.
Ramos worked as a correctional officer for 17 years – from June 2006 until he was fired in September 2023.
The web of bribes and drug trafficking reportedly extended outside the jail with alleged co-conspirators who are associates of the two inmates: Neca Silvestre, 38, of Kent; Katrina Cazares, 38, of Burien; and Kayara Zepeda, 27, of Seattle, according to a Nov. 2 news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Silvestre and Zepeda are described in court documents as associates of Montero and Cazares as an associate of Barquet. All three associates reportedly delivered drugs to Ramos and then paid him for smuggling the drugs into the jail and delivering them to Barquet and Montero.
According to court documents, Ramos reportedly received approximately $5,000 to smuggle drugs into the jail on or about March 23-24, 2023.
“Fentanyl and meth are horribly destructive in our community, and our correctional institutions are not immune,” Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said. “The challenge of keeping inmates safe is made much more difficult when correctional staff betray their positions of trust and authority.
“I credit King County law enforcement officials with working quickly and cooperatively with the FBI to identify those allegedly involved in this bribery and drug smuggling conspiracy.”
Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Seattle, said the collaboration with the King County jail, King County Sheriff’s Office, King County Prosecutor’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office led to the arrests.
”Our partners identified the actions of an employee and brought the case to our attention which resulted in a successful joint investigation,” Collodi said. “This demonstrates the commitment by public safety professionals to hold those who violate this trust to the highest standards.”
Each of the defendants is charged with four counts in the five-count indictment. Ramos is charged with soliciting and accepting a bribe. The other defendants are charged with bribery for paying the bribes. All are charged with conspiracy to engage in bribery, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute.
For Ramos, Barquet and Montero, the charges carry mandatory minimum sentences, if convicted, of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison. The other defendants face up to 20 years in prison, if convicted.
King County Executive Dow Constantine issued the following statement:
“The charges alleged in this indictment represent not just a breach of public safety, but a disdain for the trust placed in those we count on to serve and protect,” Constantine said. “I want to make clear – the charges against this former employee and his co-conspirators tarnish the work that our corrections officers do every day to serve their community with professionalism and the highest standards of care.
“The public can count on King County to continue doing everything we can to stop fentanyl and other contraband from entering our correctional facilities.”