Kennewick drug trafficker sold meth to DEA source, brought small child

DEA Tri-Cities says the “Santa Muerte” shrine pictured in a convicted man's home is commonly associated with drug trafficking.

KENNEWICK, Wash. — A federal judge has sentenced Aurelio James Gonzalez, 30, to a decade in prison following an investigation that came to a head when he sold two lbs of methamphetamine to undercover sources in the Tri-Cities.

U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington Vanessa Waldref announced the sentencing on August 11, 2022—nearly one year after he pleaded guilty to two counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine. He is slated to spend 120 months (10 years) in federal prison with five years under supervision following his release.

Court documents show that Gonzalez was identified by D.E.A. Tri-Cities as a pound-level meth trafficking suspect operating out of Kennewick. Soon after, Gonzalez allegedly sold two lbs of meth to a confidential source during controlled operations that were recorded. Officials say that he brought a small child with him to one of these sales.

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On Feb. 17, 2021, a federal search warrant was executed at the residence where he lived with his significant other and two children. DEA agents seized cocaine, a digital scale, nearly $15,000 in cash, money laundering ledgers, and three firearms near a “Santa Muerte” shrine.

Officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office say these shrines are commonly associated with drug operations.

“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,” U.S. Attorney Waldref stated.


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