Washington Man Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking
COEUR D'ALENE – James Stewart, 49, of Spokane, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced.
According to the plea agreement, the defendant and his co-conspirators drove a vehicle from Eastern Washington and Idaho to Southern California to pick up methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance. The investigation revealed that Stewart's source for the methamphetamine would hide the drugs in Stewart's vehicle, and then Stewart would drive the car to Idaho. Stewart sold and distributed the drugs to other individuals in Idaho and Washington. On at least one occasion, Stewart transported over 500 grams of methamphetamine. As part of his plea, Stewart agreed to forfeit at least $180,000 in United States Currency, or the equivalent amount in property that was used to facilitate or was derived from his participation in the illegal drug trade.
The charge carries a maximum punishment of up to life in prison, a fine up to $20 million, and up to ten years supervised release.
Sentencing is set for October 3, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene.
Stewart’s co-defendant, Shad Johnson, 38, of Rathdrum, Idaho, pleaded guilty in September 2010 to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing is set for August 8 at the federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene.
Fifteen defendants have pleaded guilty to drug offenses in related cases. Thirteen have been sentenced to date.
The indictment was the result of a joint investigation of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), led by the North Idaho Violent Crime Task Force (NIVCTF). The NIVCTF is a Federal Bureau of Investigation sponsored Safe Streets Task Force comprised of law enforcement from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department, Coeur d’Alene City Police Department, Post Falls Police Department, Idaho State Police, Bonner County Sheriff's Department, Shoshone County Sheriff's Department, and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. The task force also participates with the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshal Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and coordinates as needed with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), U.S. Border Patrol, and U.S. Forest Service.
The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations.
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a collaborative effort by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and communities to prevent and deter gun violence.