Yakima, WA– Released by U.S. Attorney’s office- Eastern District of Washignton
Chief United States District Judge Stanley A. Bastian sentenced Jonathan Rivera-Venegas, age 21, of Ellensburg, Washington, to 132 months in federal prison after Rivera-Venegas had pleaded guilty on December 7, 2022 to Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl. Rivera-Venegas will also serve five years of supervised release after his release from confinement.
According to court documents, Rivera-Venegas began distributing “blues” – which are counterfeit prescription medication containing fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid – in Ellensburg, Washington beginning in at least June 2021. Over a nine day span in August 2021, Rivera-Venegas distributed fentanyl-laced pills to a twenty-one year old male and a sixteen year old male. Both young men were poisoned by the fentanyl distributed by Rivera-Venegas and died. Rivera-Venegas then relocated to Hawaii where he was located by law enforcement and returned to the Eastern District of Washington.
United States Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref stated, “Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat facing this country, and this case in particular presents egregious consequences stemming from this dangerous poison. Mr. Rivera-Venegas knew these drugs were deadly and yet continued to distribute fentanyl in our communities. Two families are devastated as a result of Rivera-Venegas’s crimes. Our community is safer and stronger today as a result of the incredible work of several law enforcement agencies, who came together to investigate and prosecute this tragic case.”
Ken Wade, Chief of the City of Ellensburg Police Department, stated, “I appreciate the hard work and commitment to public safety that went into the investigation and prosecution of Jonathan Rivera-Venegas. We realize this conviction will not lesson the pain felt by our community and the families of those we lost. I want to thank our federal partners for their assistance in bringing Rivera-Venegas back to Washington and holding him accountable for his actions that led to these tragedies.”
“This investigation demonstrates the determination of the DEA, and our law enforcement partners, to tirelessly pursue those who bring poison into our communities,” said Jacob D. Galvan, Acting Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division. “This sentence should serve as a warning to those who distribute fake pills laced with fentanyl that we will find you and hold you accountable.”
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Ellensburg Police Department, the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Washington State Patrol. This case was prosecuted by Michael J. Ellis, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.