ARMED DRUG DEALER GETS 15 YEARS IN PRISON
BIVIANO REYES-PONCE, 26, of Pierce County, was sentenced to a lengthy prison term today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Heroin and Methamphetamine, Possession of Cocaine, Heroin and Methamphetamine, and Carrying a Firearm during and in relation to a Drug Trafficking Offense. BIVIANO REYES-PONCE was sentenced to 15 years in prison. REYES-PONCE and two other defendants were convicted in June 2005, following a week long trial. Two other defendants pled guilty.
Testimony presented at the trial revealed that REYES-PONCE and several other men acted as "armed muscle" at a drug deal arranged by FRANCISCO SALDIVAR-PINEDA. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) used a confidential informant to arrange a purchase of two pounds of methamphetamine, a kilogram of cocaine and thirteen ounces of heroin from SALDIVAR-PINEDA. The drug deal was to occur on a Thursday morning in January 2005, in a parking lot of a Chucky Cheese restaurant near the Tacoma Mall. The suspects became aware of surveillance and tried to flee. BIVIANO REYES-PONCE was arrested in a car with another defendant, and a loaded .45 pistol was found under REYES-PONCE's seat. REYES-PONCE and SALDIVAR-PINEDA are brothers. SALDIVAR-PINEDA was arrested with 331.7 grams of pure methamphetamine, 324.5 grams of heroin, and 746.8 grams of cocaine. SALDIVAR-PINEDA had a loaded pistol under the seat of the car he was driving. He will be sentenced next month.
In asking for the lengthy sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Michael Dion pointed out that "[t]he drug deal was set to take place in the middle of the day, on a main street, in a parking lot between two busy restaurants. The potential for serious injury to one of the participants in the deal, the police, or innocent bystanders is obvious." The carrying of a firearm in connection to a drug crime carries a mandatory minimum five year sentence that is to be served consecutively to any prison time on the drug charges.
In sentencing REYES-PONCE, U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton stated the drug deal was an "extremely dangerous and volatile situation" and that it was fortunate "that nobody was hurt in the enterprise." Judge Leighton described REYES-PONCE as "an essential participant" in the deal, and said that a lengthy sentence was required to "protect the community and send a message."
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Dion and former Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey B. Coopersmith.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington, at (206) 553-4110.