California man brought 'massive amounts' of meth, fentanyl to Washington from Mexico


A California man who made regular trips to Eastern Washington with illegal drugs from Mexico has been sentenced in the Richland federal courthouse to nine years in prison.

Michael Lopez Ferrel, 30, of Salinas, Calif., was apprehended in an investigation initiated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Tri-Cities office.

"Mr. Ferrel was part of a transnational drug trafficking scheme and was responsible for transporting massive amounts of illegal narcotics into Eastern Washington and distributing those drugs into our community," said Vanessa Waldref, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

The investigation relied on a DEA confidential informant who had known Ferrel for several years.

Ferrel told the informant in a phone call that he had been traveling from Mexico to Yakima every week with 180 to 220 pounds of methamphetamine, according to prosecutors.

The informant arranged to meet Ferrel at a Pasco storage unit, under the watch of DEA and Tri-City Metro Drug Task Force officers, in March 2022.

The informant had told Ferrel that he could bring him up to 20 pounds of methamphetamine at $2,000 a pound and also had 500 fentanyl pills.

Ferrel showed up in Pasco with no drugs, but spent about two hours talking and said his fentanyl pills were "stronger than the original" and could kill a person, according to court documents.

He warned that if you screw up in the drug business, "they go after your family, and that's just the way it is," according to court documents. He talked about shooting some men and other acts of violence in Mexico, which law enforcement was not able to verify.

He discussed having direct access to drugs in Mexico and people in Tijuana and Mexicali to help him "move drugs."

He offered the informant cocaine, which the informant declined, and then Ferrel snorted what appeared to be cocaine, according to court documents.

Ferrel told the informant that he could lower the price if he did not have to deliver to the informant.

The informant agreed to go to a Prosser rest stop the next day to pick up 10 pounds of methamphetamine, which Ferrel gave him in 10 pre-packaged zip-lock bags.

The informant did not have money for the meth with him, and they set up another meeting in Prosser the next day when the informant was supposed to pay.

Instead, Ferrel was arrested when he arrived at the meeting place and search warrants were served at two Sunnyside homes, including one where law enforcement had seen Ferrel pick up the meth he gave to the informant.

At that property, which court documents referred to as a "stash house" for Ferrel's drug organization, law enforcement seized 10.5 pounds of meth, a digital scale, a loaded Colt .45 pistol and $32,182.

At the other house, nothing was seized but photos were taken of IDs for other people of interest in the investigation.

Ferrel's attorney argued in court documents that Ferrel had not been seen by law enforcement with a gun and that the pistol had been found in a woman's Louis Vuitton purse in a bedroom closet that Ferrel did not have access to, because he did not live there.

Ferrel pleaded guilty in an October 2023 plea deal to possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

In addition to sentencing him to prison, U.S. Judge Mary Dimke sentenced Ferrel to five years probation.

This case was investigated by DEA Tri-Cities, assisted by the Tri-Cities Metro Drug Task Force, Tri-Cities FBI, United States Border Patrol, and Tri-Cities Regional SWAT. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Van Marter.