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Washington State News


Spokane, Washington – United States District Judge Thomas O. Rice sentenced Justin Richard Byers, 39, of Spokane Valley, Washington, to 130 months in federal prison for Possession with Intent to Distribute 40 Grams or More of Fentanyl. U.S. District Judge Rice also sentenced Byers to an additional 14 months for violating his term of supervised release.


According to court documents, in February of 2023, the Moses Lake Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit developed information that Byers was selling fentanyl pills and had a federal warrant for his arrest stemming from multiple violations of his term of federal supervised release. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) tracked Byers to an RV at a campground in North Spokane. When Byers exited the RV, Agents approached Byers in an effort to arrest him. In response, Byers ran back inside the RV and, despite repeated commands, refused to come out. After approximately 30 minutes, Byers exited his trailer, and surrendered to agents without further incident.  Byers was arrested on the federal warrant.

Agents obtained a search warrant for the RV and located 1,000 fentanyl-laced pills as well as a scale with drug residue.

In the sink, Agents located fentanyl pills as well as liquid, indicating Byers had attempted to flush the pills to avoid them being seized by Agents.  Unfortunately for Byers, as there was no water in the RV.  Byers attempted to pivot; however, unsuccessfully attempted to flush the pills down the sink with a carbonated soda.  Agents ultimately removed the p-trap to the sink and located many additional fentanyl pills.  Agents also located about 500 fentanyl pills strewn about the RV.  Agents also located two handguns, one of which had been stolen.

Agents also learned Byers was connected to two storage units in Spokane. During a search, agents located a variety of ammunition, a loaded magazine, more suspected fentanyl-laced pills and a quantity of methamphetamine.

“Mr. Byers is a repeat offender, who, when released from prison, picked up right where he left off — pedaling poison in our neighborhoods. Holding individuals accountable who are dealing drugs and removing these narcotics from our streets will make all our neighborhoods and communities safer and stronger,” stated U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref. “I’m grateful for the dedication of our law enforcement partners, who worked to bring Mr. Byers to justice.”

“One would hope that prison would be a deterrent for a convicted felon from pursuing additional illegal actions on release,” said ATF Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “In this case, Mr. Byers was not deterred.  ATF will always work tirelessly to investigate those whose actions are a continuing danger to our communities.”

“We are proud of the work done by our Street Crimes Detectives on this case, and grateful for the relationship we have with our ATF partners to bring this to a successful conclusion, ” stated Moses Lake Police Chief David Sands.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Moses Lake Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Caitlin Baunsgard.


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