U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash.
Emergency Messages as of 6:39 pm, Thu. Jun. 8
No information currently posted.
Subscribe to receive FlashAlert messages from U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash.
Primary email address for a new account:


Manage my existing Subscription

News Releases
Spokane Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Producing Child Pornography - 06/07/23

Spokane, WA – Earlier today, Senior United States District Judge Wm. Fremming Nielsen sentenced Jaiden Gyvan Petersen, age 24, of Spokane, Washington, to 240 months in federal prison today for two counts of Production of Child Pornography (240 months on each count to be served concurrently). At the conclusion of his prison term, Petersen will spend the rest of his life on federal supervision. Senior Judge Nielsen ordered restitution to the victims of Petersen’s offenses in the amount of $23,400. Petersen had entered a guilty plea to two counts of Production of Child Pornography on December 8, 2022.

This case stemmed from a CyberTip or a notice to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reporting the online exploitation of children. The FBI received the CyberTip, which originated from Snapchat, indicating child pornography had traveled across Snapchat’s servers from Petersen’s Snapchat account.

Petersen was interviewed by law enforcement and admitted the Snapchat account in question was his.  He further admitted he had been receiving and distributing child pornography for years. 

Law enforcement obtained a federal search warrant and searched serval of Petersen’s electronic devices.  All of these devices were reviewed forensically.  During the review, the FBI found at total of over 1,000 child pornography images and 10 child pornography videos.  Three images were of a local production victim — i.e., a victim of a separate defendant also prosecuted in the Eastern District of Washington — that were traded directly with Petersen.  Other illicit images in Petersen’s possession included urination and child bondage. 

During the investigation, the FBI also located child pornography images Petersen had produced himself. Specifically, Petersen produced child pornography with a six-year old child to whom he had access when Petersen was himself was 17-years old.  Petersen later distributed these images after he became an adult.  Because Petersen produced those images when he was 17 years old, the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney is prosecuting the case pertaining to this first victim.   

As an adult, Petersen produced additional child pornography of two other children.  The children were 13 years and 14 years old respectively when the production occurred. The older child was a person Petersen knew personally, and the younger child was a person Petersen met on Xbox Live. Petersen asked both victims to produce very specific images of child pornography and to send these materials to him, often through Snapchat. 

At today’s sentencing, Senior Judge Nielsen noted the seriousness of the misconduct and stated, “Your conduct will have an adverse effect psychologically on the lives of your victims.”  Judge Nielsen also told Petersen that the victims he selected were young and vulnerable, “so not only were they victims, but their family members are victimized also as a result” of Petersen’s actions.

“This case unfortunately serves as a stark reminder of the need to educate children, even young teenagers, of the dangers that lurk online,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref.  “Our office prioritizes these offenses against our community’s youngest and most vulnerable and will continue to aggressively prosecute those who harm children.” 

“For years now, Mr. Petersen has shown a willingness to exploit children.” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. “Not only did he receive and distribute disturbing images, he produced pornographic images with child victims he knew personally. This case demonstrates the commitment of the FBI and our partners to protect children from people like Mr. Petersen, who seek to harm and exploit them.” 

This case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (“PSC”) has five major components:

  • Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases, and to identify and rescue children;
  • Participation of PSC partners in coordinated national initiatives;
  • Increased federal enforcement in child pornography and enticement cases;
  • Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; and
  • Community awareness and educational programs.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”

The federal case was investigated by the Spokane Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Alison L. Gregoire, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.  Hannah Sterns, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, will now take custody of Mr. Petersen to complete the prosecution pertaining to the youngest production victim. 


Coeur d'Alene Physician Indicted for Participating in Telemarketing Medicare Fraud Conspiracy - 06/07/23

Indictment Charges Medical Doctor with Fraudulently Ordering More than $4 Million in Medically-Unnecessary Genetic Tests and Braces 

Spokane and Yakima, Washington – Today, Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that a grand jury returned an Indictment charging David Antonio Becerril, M.D., age 67, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and formerly of Selah, Washington, with sixteen counts of conspiracy, fraud, and false statements in connection with Dr. Becerril’s participation in a telemarketing health care fraud scheme. 

According to the Indictment returned today, between February 2018 and September 2019, Dr. Becerril, a licensed Washington physician, participated in a scheme and conspiracy to obtain millions of dollars by falsely billing Medicare for medically-unnecessary genetic tests and durable medical equipment, including back, knee, shoulder, and ankle braces. The Indictment alleges that Dr. Becerril signed false and fraudulent orders for genetic tests and braces for elderly Medicare beneficiaries that Dr. Becerril was not treating, and with whom he never spoke or interacted.  The Indictment alleges that, instead, telemarketers associated with a company known as Real Time Physicians, LLC (Real Time) contacted the elderly Medicare beneficiaries and obtained their personal information and beneficiary numbers. The Indictment alleges that Dr. Becerril, using an internet portal provided by Real Time, placed false and fraudulent orders for braces and genetic tests for the beneficiaries, signing orders and other documents prepared by Real Time that contained false medical information and made it appear that he was treating the beneficiaries. According to the Indictment, Real Time then sold the orders to genetic testing labs and durable medical equipment companies, who then billed Medicare, sharing the proceeds with Real Time.  The Indictment alleges that Real Time paid Dr. Becerril a $20 kickback for each beneficiary for which he placed a Medicare order. 

According to the Indictment, Dr. Becerril reviewed these orders for as little as 11 seconds before signing them and falsely attesting to their medical necessity, and never once declined to sign an order. The Indictment alleges that Medicare was billed $4.1 million for fraudulent orders signed by Dr. Becerril, who never once spoke to, treated, or interacted with a patient, and paid out more than $1.5 million before the fraud was uncovered. 

In June 2022, the Department of Justice announced that Marc Sporn, 59, of Delray Beach, Florida, the former owner of Real Time and other similar companies, was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for his role in the conspiracy to fraudulently bill Medicare. 

“For far too long, elderly members of our communities have faced abuse, neglect and exploitation,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “Studies show that one in ten elders report experiencing elder mistreatment each year. We take these crimes seriously, and our office is committed to investigating and prosecuting financial fraud scams, especially those that impact elderly members of our community.”

The charges against Becerril carry maximum sentences of up to 20 years in federal prison.  Special Assistant United States Attorney Allie S. Jensen and Assistant United States Attorneys Dan Fruchter and Tyler H.L. Tornabene are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States. 

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

United States v. Becerril, 1:23-cr-02029-SAB

U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref (center) with, from left to right, SAUSA Allie S. Jensen, AUSA  Frieda K. Zimmerman, AUSA Laurel J. Holland, and Criminal Chief Alison Gregoire
U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref (center) with, from left to right, SAUSA Allie S. Jensen, AUSA Frieda K. Zimmerman, AUSA Laurel J. Holland, and Criminal Chief Alison Gregoire
U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref Administers the Oath of Office to Three Women Selected to Serve as Federal Prosecutors in Eastern Washington (Photo) - 06/06/23

Spokane and Richland, WA – United States Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref announced today that three women – Laurel J. Holland, Frieda K. Zimmerman, and Allie S. Jensen – were sworn in as federal prosecutors for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington. Holland, Zimmerman, and Jensen will represent the United States of America in criminal and civil cases prosecuted in federal court. Holland and Zimmerman will serve as Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs), and Jensen will serve as a Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA). 

AUSA Holland is the first ever federal prosecutor appointed to serve fulltime in the newly staffed U.S. Attorney’s Office in Richland, Washington. AUSA Zimmerman and SAUSA Jensen will serve out of the main office in Spokane. 

After administering the oath of office, U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref stated, “Today, each of these incredible women affirmed their commitment to execute faithfully their duties to serve and defend the Constitution of the United States. Each brings a wealth of experience, talent, and a strong commitment to public service.” U.S. Attorney Waldref continued,” We know from experience that these three women are exceptional attorneys and prosecutors. They are dedicated to building safer and stronger communities for everyone in Eastern Washington.”

AUSA Holland will serve in the Criminal Division, which handles all manner of federal criminal cases on behalf of the United States.  Holland previously served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Benton County from October 2009 through October 2015 and again from January 2019 through May 2023. In between, Holland served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Yakima, Washington from 2015 through 2018. From April 2022 until now, Holland served as a SAUSA, handling cases in both state and federal court. Throughout her career, Holland has been recognized for her work prosecuting cases involving the exploitation of young children.  

AUSA Zimmerman, another member of the Office’s Criminal Division, will handle a variety of cases ranging from narcotics trafficking and illegal firearms possession to fraud and public corruption. Earlier this year, Zimmerman was honored by Attorney General Merrick Garland for her work at the Department of Energy Office of Inspector General. As a SAUSA for DOE, Zimmerman has been recognized as an expert in the areas of white-collar crime, False Claims Act cases, health care fraud, civil rights, and COVID-19 fraud. Prior to her federal service, Zimmerman served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Washington State Office of the Attorney General and worked at a local law firm in Spokane.

SAUSA Jensen will handle white collar fraud for both the Criminal and Civil Divisions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2022, and later this year, she will begin a clerkship for the Honorable Zia M. Faruqui, who serves as a United States Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  Prior to law school, Jensen was an elementary school teacher for the District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington D.C. 

With today’s announcement, the Tri-Cities now has, for the first time ever, a staffed U.S. Attorney’s Office. U.S. Attorney Waldref stated, “Laurel Holland’s appointment as an Assistant United States Attorney marks a significant milestone for the Eastern District of Washington. When I became the United States Attorney a little more than a year ago, I made a commitment to open a staffed branch office in the Tri-cities, and we have worked tirelessly to make this happen. Today, we officially have fulfilled that promise.” She continued, “Our expansion in the Tri-Cities area is just getting started. We anticipate additional growth in the weeks, months, and years to come.”

Armed Drug Dealer Sentenced To Eight Years In Federal Prison - 06/05/23

Spokane, WA – Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Joseph William Baker, age 28, of Airway Heights, Washington, was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison by Senior District Court Judge Wm. Fremming Nielsen. Baker was convicted of Possession with Intent to Distribute 5 Grams of Actual (Pure) Methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B)(viii), stemming from a traffic stop on November 22, 2021. 

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, on November 22, 2021, the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office (“WCSO”) conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Baker in the Colfax, Washington area. Upon contact with WCSO deputies, Baker appeared extremely nervous and was shaking uncontrollably. He was unable to produce a driver’s license and advised the deputy that his driver’s license was suspended.  Baker was asked to get out of his car, and in doing so, the deputy noticed a bag of heroin on the floor of the vehicle.  A subsequent search of Baker’s person revealed methamphetamine in his pocket as well as just over $800 in U.S. Currency.  Baker admitted the money was from drug sales and that there was a loaded handgun in his car that may have been stolen. 

A state search warrant was obtained for Baker’s vehicle, and the WCSO located over 100 fentanyl-laced pills, approximately two ounces of methamphetamine, two ounces of heroin, two working digital scales with drug residue on them, and a loaded Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 ACP caliber semi-automatic firearm.  A record check on the firearm, and subsequent witness interviews, revealed the firearm was stolen from the Spokane area about a week prior to the traffic stop. After Baker’s federal indictment, he was released to attend drug treatment.  After about one week in treatment, Baker left, absconded from supervision, and was a fugitive for close to seven months before being located and rearrested.  

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Nielsen noted that drug trafficking is a very serious activity that harms the community. The Court explained that Baker’s activities fed the addictions of others and created additional addicts. Judge Nielsen further noted that Baker engaged in this dangerous conduct notwithstanding multiple prior felony convictions and a history of assaultive behavior.  As Judge Nielsen put it, Baker had “thumb[ed] his nose at the system,” by failing to appear for his criminal cases on at least twelve separate occasions. 

“I’m grateful for the professionalism and dedication of the federal and state law enforcement team, who work together to keep our communities safe,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “Mr. Baker brought dangerous drugs into our community and possessed stolen firearms that put our neighborhood at risk. Today’s sentence reaffirms our Office’s commitment to prevent violence and holding individuals accountable for their crimes.”   

Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers stated, “I could not be more pleased with the outcome of this case and the cooperation we received from our federal partners. The Whitman County Sheriff’s Office will continue to pursue every avenue we can to keep our communities, streets and neighborhoods safe from those who intend to violate the law and traffic in dangerous and deadly narcotics.”  He continued, “The public expects its law enforcement agencies to protect and serve. In order to do that, we must also hold people accountable.  Todays’ sentence demonstrates that in Whitman County and Eastern Washington accountability is the rule, not the exception.”

“Mr. Baker received many opportunities to bring his conduct in line with the law, but repeatedly chose not to do so,” said ATF Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “Our communities are safer when we remove armed drug dealers from our streets for an extended period of time.”

This case was investigated by the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Caitlin Baunsgard. 

Case No.: 2:22-CR-024-WFN

Spokane Man Sentenced to 17 Years for Receipt of Child Pornography While on Federal Supervision - 05/31/23

Spokane, WA – On May 30, 2023, U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rossana Malouf Peterson sentenced Christopher Gary Carlson, 50, of Spokane, Washington, to 180 months in federal prison for Receipt of Child Pornography, followed by an additional 24 months in prison for violating a previously imposed term of supervised release. Judge Peterson also ordered Carlson to pay $24,000 in restitution to his victims and to a lifetime of federal supervision upon release from prison.

According to information disclosed in court proceedings, this was Carlson’s third time being sentenced for child pornography crimes. His first conviction was in 2007, for which he was ordered to serve 12 months and a day in a state prison. His second child pornography conviction was in 2014, for which Judge Peterson sentenced Carlson to 10 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release. Undeterred by these prior terms of incarceration, Carlson used a smartphone to download and view child pornography just a month after his recent release from federal prison. The smartphone was discovered in July 2022, when a U.S. Probation Officer conducted a home visit at Carlson’s residence. When the FBI obtained a federal warrant to search the phone, FBI agents located 198 images and 63 videos of child pornography on Carlson’s device. 

“Today’s 17-year sentence sends a powerful reminder to Mr. Carlson and others like him: Crimes that exploit the most vulnerable among us cannot, and will not, be tolerated,” stated United States Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref. “Time and again, Mr. Carlson returned to the internet to view and collect depictions of a child’s most horrific experiences. Yet, just as swiftly as Mr. Carlson collected these images and videos depicting this incredible harm, U.S. Probation and the FBI responded, preventing Mr. Carlson from victimizing hundreds if not thousands more minor children.” 

United States Attorney Waldref continued, “As a result of the seamless partnership between the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office, Mr. Carlson was again brought to justice, and our communities are safer and stronger, especially for young children. I’m especially grateful for the incredible work by Assistant United States Attorney Ann Wick. Cases such as this demonstrate AUSA Wick’s relentless dedication to pursuing justice.” 

This case was investigated by the Spokane Resident Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Ann T. Wick, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. 


Spokane Resident Pleads Guilty to Fraudulently Obtaining More than $360,000 in COVID-19 Relief Funding - 05/31/23

Spokane, Washington – Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Marisa Beck, age 40, of Spokane, pled guilty to fraudulently obtaining more than $360,000 in COVID-19 relief funding intended for endangered small businesses.  United States District Judge Mary K. Dimke accepted Ms. Beck’s guilty plea and set sentencing for September 27, 2023, at 11 a.m., in Spokane.  This conviction is the eighth felony conviction announced by the Eastern Washington COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force, which launched in 2022.   

On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  The CARES Act provided a number of programs through which eligible small businesses could request and obtain relief funding intended to mitigate the economic impacts of the pandemic for small and local businesses. One such program, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), provided forgivable loans to eligible small businesses to retain jobs and maintain payroll during the pandemic.  Another program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, provided low-interest bridge funding for small businesses placed at risk during the pandemic. 

“COVID-19 relief programs quickly ran out of money due to the number of businesses that requested funding, meaning that struggling, deserving small businesses were not able to obtain critically needed funding to keep their businesses afloat during the shutdowns and disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref.  “We created the Eastern Washington COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force because it is critical to the strength and safety of our communities that we all work together to combat pandemic-related fraud and bring much-needed accountability to these programs.  The Strike Force works to ensure that limited resources are used to protect our local small businesses and the critical jobs and services that they provide for the community.” 

In February 2022, U.S. Attorney Waldref and the U.S. Attorney’s Office began working with federal law enforcement agencies to create and launch a COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force that would leverage partnerships between different agencies to aggressively investigate and prosecute fraud against COVID-19 relief programs in Eastern Washington. The Strike Force consists of agency representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Inspector General (OIG), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs OIG, General Services Administration OIG, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Energy OIG, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) OIG, Department of Labor OIG, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and others. Cases investigated and prosecuted by the Strike Force have resulted in numerous indictments and convictions, and have recovered millions of dollars in penalties and restitution for the public. 

In the plea agreement accepted by the court, and in information disclosed during court proceedings, Ms. Beck admitted to fraudulently obtaining $368,829 in PPP and EIDL funding for three purported businesses: Cyra Solar LLC, Beck N’ Call Landscape, LLC, and Value in People Consulting, LLC. Ms. Beck admitted that these entities were not eligible for CARES Act funding because Beck N’ Call Landscape and Cyra Solar were not active businesses as of February 2020, and because she submitted false and fraudulent payroll, revenue, and other information associated with the three purported businesses in order to fraudulently obtain CARES Act funding. 

“I commend the stellar investigative work on these cases performed by the Strike Force and especially in this case by VA OIG,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref.  “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to strengthen our communities by protecting our small and local businesses.” 

The charges to which Beck pled carries a maximum sentence of up to 5 years in federal prison.  The cases were investigated by the Eastern Washington COVID Fraud Strike Force, and in particular by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, Spokane Resident Office, with investigative assistance and support from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Spokane Resident Agency, the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, Western Regional Office, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigative Division, Seattle Field Office.  Assistant United States Attorneys Dan Fruchter and Tyler H.L. Tornabene are prosecuting this case on behalf of the United States.  

Case No. 2:23-cr-00055-MKD

United States Attorney's Office Awarded Several New Prosecutor and Support-Staff Positions, Including Additional Resources to Prosecute Violent Crime in Indian Country - 05/24/23

Spokane, WA: U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref, the chief federal law enforcement officer for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that her office has received authorization and funding from the Department of Justice to hire seven new full-time Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs) and two full-time support staff.  The new positions – which will be spread throughout the District’s three offices in Spokane, Yakima, and Richland – will be dedicated to combating terrorism, fraud, drug trafficking, and violent crime, including in Indian Country. The U.S. Department of Justice allocated these positions to U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country from funding approved in last year’s federal budget.   

“We are excited for these additional resources to further our mission to build safer and stronger communities in Eastern Washington,” U.S. Attorney Waldref said. “In the next month, we will have, for the first time ever, full-time AUSAs serving in our Richland branch office. With the addition of the nine new positions announced today, we will be able to further enhance our efforts to protect neighborhoods, families, and communities in the Tri-Cities, Spokane, Yakima, and throughout our beautiful district.”

U.S. Attorney Waldref continued, “With these new positions, we will have forty AUSAs serving in the Eastern District of Washington. This means that our team – which includes attorneys, critical support positions, administrative officers, victim witness advocates, forfeiture personnel, etc. – will grow to approximately ninety civil servants dedicated to DOJ’s mission to seek justice for all.” 

“We’re especially grateful to have additional resources devoted to the important work we do in Indian Country, where we prosecute major crimes arising on the District’s four reservations – the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Spokane Tribe, and the Kalispel Tribe. In fact, one of the AUSA positions is specifically devoted to cases involving Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. We recognize that indigenous communities suffer violence, especially domestic violence, at much higher rates than many other demographics. We are committed to addressing violent crimes in Indian country and elsewhere and holding perpetrators accountable.” 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington currently has more than thirty AUSAs serving in its Criminal and Civil Divisions in Spokane, Yakima, and Richland. The hiring process for the new positions is already underway and additional listings will be posted in the coming weeks. All of the Office’s openings will be made available at http://www.usajobs.gov.

U.S. Marshals Locate 225 Missing Children in 16 Locations Across the United States During "Operation We Will Find You" - 05/24/23

Spokane, WA – Today the United States Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) announced that the USMS, along with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), working with several state and local agencies in 16 federal judicial districts, led a 10-week national operation resulting in the recovery or safe location of 225 endangered missing children.

Operation We Will Find You is one of the first nationwide missing children operations focused specifically on geographical areas with high clusters of critically missing children. In total, the operation resulted in the recovery of 169 children and the safe location of 56 more children. During the operation, the USMS referred 28 cases to law enforcement agencies for further investigation of alleged crimes such as drugs and weapons possession, sex trafficking, and failures to register as a sex offender. 

During the operation, 42 children were located outside the city where they went missing, and 10 were found outside of the United States. The youngest child recovered was just 6 months old. While approximately 85 percent of the cases involved endangered runaways, approximately 9 percent involved family abductions. Approximately 40 of the cases involved allegations of reporting sex trafficking. 

Operation We Will Find You also had a direct impact on the Eastern District of Washington.  It total, the operation investigated more than 20 cases arising from our District.  These cases involved allegations of endangered missing children, runaways, and children abducted by non-custodial parents. Of these, 16 children were recovered. Additionally, the USMS arrested a Top 15 Most Wanted couple, who fled to Mexico from the Eastern District of Washington with their children. Each of the recovered children was safely reunited with family in Washington State. 

“I commend law enforcement for locating so many missing children from our district and across the country,” stated U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref.  “I am grateful for the leadership of the U.S. Marshals Service and their dedication to apprehending fugitives and reuniting the most vulnerable among us with their families.  Our communities are safer and stronger as a result of the great service demonstrated through the joint efforts by the U.S. Marshals and their Federal, State, Local, and Tribal partners.”   

United States Marshal Craig Thayer stated, “Reuniting missing children with loved ones and connecting them with appropriate services is a mission in which the United States Marshals Service takes great pride. The specialized skillset that the U.S. Marshals Service provides to our Local, State, and Tribal partners in locating and recovering missing, and oftentimes exploited children, provides these children a second chance for a better childhood by being reunited with their loved ones and connected with other necessary help.” 

A number of Federal, State, Local, and Tribal agencies participated with the USMS in “Operation We Will Find You.” These agencies included the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Confederated Tribes Bands of Yakama Nation Police Department, Ephrata Police Department, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Grant County Sheriff’s Office, Moses Lake Police Department, Othello Police Department, U.S. Border Patrol, Washington Department of Child Youth and Families, Washington Department of Corrections and Yakima Police Department.

Kennewick Man Sentenced to 151 Months for Drug Trafficking in the Tri-Cities: - 05/23/23

Active Gang Member Was in Possession of a Loaded Firearm at the Time of His Arrest

Richland, Washington – On May 22, 2023, United States District Judge Mary K. Dimke sentenced Jose Oliva, 37, to over 12 years in federal prison after his guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. Oliva also will serve 5 years of federal supervision after he is released from federal custody. 

According to information disclosed in court documents and during court proceedings, the DEA Tri-Cities Resident Office in collaboration with Tri-City Metro Drug Task Force identified Oliva as a supplier and part of a drug trafficking organization operating in the Tri-Cities, WA area. Oliva was brokering pound-level quantities of methamphetamine for the organization, which were routinely distributed in the Eastern District of Washington.

In July of 2022, Oliva had agreed to meet a confidential source to deliver a pound of methamphetamine, as well as fentanyl-laced pills. After confirming Oliva’s presence at the arranged meeting location, agents moved in to make the arrest.  Oliva immediately fled on foot while in possession of a loaded firearm and distribution quantities of fentanyl-laced pills, which he attempted to discard while in flight from law enforcement. Oliva did not escape and was placed under arrest thereafter.

Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, stated “Removing dangerous narcotics from our community is critical to protecting our families and building stronger and safer neighborhoods. I am grateful for the joint efforts of state, local, and federal law enforcement to identify Mr. Oliva’s drug trafficking activities and to prevent him from further distributing this poison in our community. I also commend Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Van Marter for her leadership of federal drug prosecutions in the Tri-Cities that benefit the public safety of Eastern Washington.” 

“We are grateful for working with all of our partners in this investigation. Our efforts removed an individual from our communities who distributed deadly narcotics and possessed a dangerous firearm,” said Jacob D. Galvan, Acting Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division. “We will continue in any way we can to keep our communities safe and healthy.”

This case was investigated by the DEA Tri-Cities Resident Office, the Tri-City METRO Drug Task Force, United States Border Patrol, Richland Police Department, Kennewick Police Department, Pasco Police Department, West Richland Police Department, and the Benton County Sherriff’s Office. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Van Marter.