Norteno gang leader and drug trafficker sentenced to 20 years in federal prison
SPOKANE, Wash., - Joshua Isaac Stine, age 34, a resident of Ephrata, Washington, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Court Judge Wm. Fremming Nielsen to a 240 month term of imprisonment, to be followed by a 10 year term of court supervision after he is released from federal prison. Stine had previously pleaded guilty on May 28, 2020, to conspiracy to distribute 500 Grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and a mixture or substance containing heroin, possession with intent to distribute 500 Grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, distribution of 50 grams or more of actual (pure) methamphetamine, and felon in possession of a firearm.
According to information disclosed during court proceedings, this case involved a long-term coordinated investigation lead by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) into drug trafficking activities in the greater Grant County, Washington and surrounding areas. The U.S. Border Patrol and multiple local law enforcement agencies in Grant County were also involved. Joshua Isaac Stine has been a validated member and a leader of the East Side Familia (ESF) Norteno criminal street gang. In this role, Stine engaged in significant, multi-pound-level, trafficking of both methamphetamine and heroin. Further, Stine recruited and trained young gang members to distribute controlled substances for ESF and himself. Those individuals face federal sentencing for their criminal activities later this month.
On July 16, 2019, numerous search warrants were executed by law enforcement as part of this case. Stine was found to have multiple pounds of methamphetamine and an arsenal of weapons, to include assault rifles, in a "stash house." Multiple firearms were also located at Stine’s primary residence in Ephrata, Washington.
In the sentencing hearing, the Court found Stine to be a leader / organizer of this criminal venture and that he engaged in this criminal conduct as a livelihood. The Court noted the entire Moses Lake and surrounding communities are victims of Stine’s choice to engage in the serious drug trafficking – feeding countless addictions as well as facilitating the creation of new addicts. The Court noted Stine knew he should not engage in this conduct, but chose to do it anyway.
United States Attorney Hyslop said, "As a gang member and repeated large scale prolific drug trafficker, Stine caused great harm to so many families and the community. With the Court’s significant sentence, Stine is now removed from the community and the public is protected from his continued criminal activities – and the inevitable violence that follows the gang subculture from which he refused to separate himself. We thank the ATF, DEA, Border Patrol and all the outstanding work by so many local law enforcement agencies in Grant and Adams County that together deserve great credit for this result."
"Drugs and violence are inextricably linked and major factors in the destabilization of our communities," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino. "Today, this collaborative and coordinated law enforcement effort stopped this violent offender from threatening our youth and terrorizing our communities. DEA is fully committed to working closely with our federal, state and local law enforcement counterparts to thwart this ever present threat."
"Stine’s lengthy sentence was well justified," said ATF Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. "His actions in directing his criminal associates to sell drugs in the Moses Lake area are abhorrent. This sentence should serve as a warning to others that actions such as Stine’s will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest by ATF and our local, state, and federal partners."
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation entitled Operation Dave’s Song. The OCDETF program provides supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved in the investigation of drug-related crimes. This OCDETF investigation is being conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
This case was prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program. PSN is a federal, state, and local law enforcement collaboration to identify, investigate, and prosecute individuals responsible for violent crimes in our neighborhoods. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement to specifically identify the criminals responsible for violent crime in the Eastern District of Washington and pursue criminal prosecution.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Border Patrol, the Moses Lake Police Department, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, the Ephrata Police Department, the Washington State Patrol, the Othello Police Department, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, and the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. This case was prosecuted by Caitlin Baunsgard, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.