Former Bellevue man extradited from Spain on drug charges

David R. Mendoza, 44, formerly of Bellevue, was flown into Seattle on May 1 to face a seven count indictment charging him in a drug trafficking and marijuana scheme.

Mendoza made his initial appearance at 2:30 Monday, May 4 in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

The first indictment in the case was returned in December 2006, and the indictment was unsealed in January 2007, after Mendoza was located in Spain. He was extradited from Spain last month.

Mendoza was identified as the leader of a conspiracy to smuggle more than 100 kilo loads of BC Bud marijuana into the U.S., including several smuggles by helicopter. He is specifically charged in smuggling runs on August 4, 2005, February 7, 2006, and multiple loads between June 1 and August 17, 2006.

Mendoza is charged with Conspiracy to Import Marijuana, Conspiracy to Possess Marijuana aboard an Arriving Aircraft, three counts of Possession of Marijuana Aboard an Arriving Aircraft, Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering, and Structuring Financial Transactions.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

If convicted Mendoza faces up to life in prison.

The government is moving to forfeit properties Mendoza owns in Bellevue and Deer Park, Wash., as well as a movie theater in Bend, Ore. The government alleges that these properties were purchase with the proceeds of the drug conspiracy.

The indictment alleges that Mendoza made more than 50 $2,500 deposits into bank accounts in June and July 2005, to avoid bank reporting requirements.