Seattle Man Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Drug Trafficking on 3rd/ Pike While Armed with a Handgun
Case was Part of Multi-Agency Effort to Reduce Drug Trafficking and Violent Crime in Seattle
SEATTLE – A 30-year-old man from Seattle, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 60 months and one day in prison for drug trafficking and using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Lavonta Austin pleaded guilty in July of 2023 in U.S. District Court in Seattle. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart, said, “The statistics are just bleak. People die every day from drug overdoses, but you can’t have overdoses without someone selling the drugs. Gun violence is rampant in our society, but you can’t have gun violence without someone carrying a loaded 45 caliber gun.”
“Both 3rd and Pine and 12th and Jackson are areas hard hit by the dangers of fentanyl and firearms,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. “It is important that we do all we can to keep those areas safe, the businesses around it open, and deadly drugs off the streets.”
According to records filed in the case, Lavonta Austin was first contacted by Seattle Police at 3rd Avenue and Pike Street in downtown Seattle on August 4, 2022. Austin sold fentanyl pills to an undercover officer, and then attempted to run from the police. The police took him into custody. Austin had been carrying methamphetamine, fentanyl, more than $2,000 in cash, and a loaded 45-caliber handgun. A few months later, on October 9, 2022, Austin was arrested at a Seattle motel with fentanyl, methamphetamine, $1,770 in cash, and a loaded 9mm handgun. Both the prosecution and the defense recommended a 5-year sentence.
Austin pleaded guilty to possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The drug possession charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The gun crime is punishable by a mandatory minimum of five years in prison that runs consecutively to the sentence imposed on the drug possession charge.
This case is part of an effort to reduce drug trafficking and gun violence at 3rd and Pine and 12th and Jackson in Seattle. The City of Seattle, along with the Seattle Police Department, the King County Sherriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Western Washington are all a part of this coordinated effort.
The Western District of Washington prosecuted several cases in conjunction with the effort to improve public safety on Third and Pine and 12th and Jackson. All of these cases involved charges of drug trafficking and related firearms crimes, including:
Kendall Alston, who was sentenced to 60 months and one day in February 2023;
Ceandrick Davis, who was sentenced to 60 months and one day in January 2023;
Mar’jon Guyton, who was sentenced to 24 months in January 2023;
Joseph Johnson, who was sentenced to 48 months in May 2023;
Cuong Cao and Amirkai Brown, both of whom are pending trial over the next several months.
This case was investigated by the Seattle Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cecelia Gregson.