Centralia auto business arrest followed discovery of almost 10 pounds of cocaine

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The owner of a Centralia property whose Harrison Avenue premises was visited two weeks ago by federal agents has been charged by indictment in a drug case after he was found to have nearly 10 pounds of cocaine hidden in his attic.

Donato Valle Vega was arrested on Sept. 17, the day after law enforcement officers descended on Emmanuel Auto Sales.

He is accused of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, according to the indictment which was filed last Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Valle Vega remains in federal custody, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. His arraignment is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Friday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, according to spokesperson Emily Langlie.

The complaint in the case describes four individually wrapped kilogram-sized blocks of powder cocaine retrieved from the attic of the building on Harrison Avenue. A kilogram is roughly equivalent to 2.2 pounds.

While the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration didn’t put a street value on the find, the price of one kilo in Southwest Washington could range from $22,000 to $26,000, according to DEA Special Agent Jodie Underwood.

County records show the property is owned by Donato and Irma Valle-Vega. A woman at the business the day after the arrest declined to comment.

Centralia police issued a news release the weekend following the arrest noting they assisted. The DEA referred inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to the complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court, an FBI agent and a DEA agent met with Valle Vega on Sept. 2 at Fort Borst Park in Centralia.

They allege he admitted hiding drugs at his business and then he accompanied the two to Emmanuel Auto Sales where he showed them the bundles.

The document goes to say: Valle Vega told the FBI agent he got five and half kilos in July, but had already distributed one and a half kilograms to a customer in August.

The document doesn’t explain why he was not arrested until a little more than two weeks later.

Langlie of the U.S. Attorney’s Office says it’s not something they would comment on, other than noting investigations involve many steps.

The motion for a detention order cites a serious risk the defendant will flee, and the safety of any other person and the community. The crime has a maximum sentence of ten years or more.

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