Spokane, Washington – Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Aurelio James Gonzalez, 30, of Kennewick Washington was sentenced in federal court in Spokane for two counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine. Chief United States District Judge Stanley A. Bastian sentenced Gonzales to a total of 120 months in federal prison and ordered Gonzales to serve a five-year term of supervised release. Gonzales plead guilty on October 27, 2021.
According to court documents, in September 2021, DEA Tri-Cities, in partnership with the METRO Drug Task Force, identified Gonzales as a pound-level methamphetamine trafficker operating in the Tri-Cities area and elsewhere. Through the use of a confidential source, DEA conducted several recorded meetings with Gonzales as well as two separate controlled buys, where Gonzales sold the confidential source at total of approximately two pounds of methamphetamine. On February 17, 2021, a federal search warrant was executed at his residence in Kennewick, WA, where Gonzales lived with his significant other and two small children. Gonzales had taken one of those small children with him when he sold the methamphetamine to the DEA confidential source. When DEA executed the search warrant, agents located and seized cocaine, a digital scale, $14,805 in U.S. currency, ledgers about how to engage in money laundering, and a total of three firearms. Most of these items were located near a “Santa Muerte” shrine, depicted below, which is commonly associated with drug trafficking.
United States Attorney Waldref commended the joint efforts of law enforcement for working together to keep the Eastern District safe: “This case involved both largescale methamphetamine distribution as well the possession of several firearms in furtherance of Mr. Gonzales’s drug-trafficking organization.” U.S. Attorney Waldref continued, “Today’s sentence removes Mr. Gonzales from our community for 10 years and reiterates the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s commitment to vigorously prosecute those who distribute poison in Eastern Washington.”
“This investigation illustrates the strong relationships we have with our federal, state and local partners as we work together to keep our communities safe, healthy and free from dangerous drugs,” said Jacob D. Galvan, Acting Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division.
This case was prosecuted under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. The OCDETF program provides supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved in the investigation of transnational drug trafficking and related offenses. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement to specifically identify the criminals responsible for these drug related offenses in the Eastern District of Washington and pursue criminal prosecution.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration Tri Cities Task Force in partnership with the Kennewick, Pasco and Richland Police Departments. This case was prosecuted by Stephanie Van Marter, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.