News and Press Releases

Seattle Man Arrested with Cocaine and Loaded Gun Under Seat of His Car

April 17, 2009

ROBERTO ANGEL CHAVEZ, 28, of Seattle, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 110 months in prison and five years of supervised release for possession of crack cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and being a felon in possession of a firearm. On June 24, 2008, CHAVEZ was initially contacted for failing to stop at a red light, and was arrested for driving with a suspended license. CHAVEZ had three of his children sitting in the back seat of his car. A drug sniffing dog later found cocaine under the seat where the children had been sitting, and officers found a loaded handgun stashed with the drugs. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman commented that CHAVEZ had one of the longest serious criminal histories she has seen. The Judge added that a good father does not have a two-year-old sitting above drugs and a loaded firearm.

According to records filed in the case, CHAVEZ was driving in Federal Way just before 7:00 in the evening, when he rolled through a red light, making a right hand turn onto Military Road South. CHAVEZ had three children ranging in age from 2-years-old to 9-years-old sitting on the back seat. CHAVEZ was placed under arrest when the officer learned his driver’s license had been suspended. The officer smelled a strong odor of marijuana, so a drug dog was called in to search the vehicle. CHAVEZ had marijuana hidden on his person, and the dog then stuck his nose under the back seat of the car, where the children had been sitting, and pulled out a sack containing seven plastic baggies of cocaine and a digital scale. The cocaine had an approximate street value of $19,000.

When the officer looked under the seat where the drugs had been hidden, he discovered a Sig Sauer, model P239, 9mm semi-automatic pistol that had been reported stolen in Oregon. The gun was loaded with five rounds of ammunition. CHAVEZ was prohibited from possessing a firearm because of these previous convictions from King County, Washington: Possession of Cocaine, 2007; Rendering Criminal Assistance, 2003; Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, 2003; Possession of Cocaine 2002; Robbery Second Degree, 1998; and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm 1996.

The criminal charge from 2003, stems from a fatal shooting outside a club in downtown Seattle. According to court records, CHAVEZ approached a rival gang member outside the club and started an argument. CHAVEZ, a member of the Hoover Crips street gang, pulled a gun on the unarmed rival. As the two squared off, another member of CHAVEZ’s gang approached and shot the rival gang member in the back of the head, killing him. CHAVEZ fired two shots, but did not hit anyone. CHAVEZ was charged with second degree attempted murder, but pleaded guilty to rendering criminal assistance and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

In asking for a lengthy prison term, Special Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Colasurdo wrote to the court, “Chavez has consistently and repeatedly disobeyed orders of the court, and disregarded the law, by continuing to possess firearms and sell/possess illegal drugs. The prior sentences he has received obviously have not deterred him and the fact that he played a role in the taking of another man’s life has seemingly had little or no effect on his decision making and behavior. As long as Chavez continues to possess firearms, he will continue to be a threat to this community.”

CHAVEZ was prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), is a comprehensive and strategic approach to gun law enforcement. PSN is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking both new and existing local programs that target gun crime and then providing them with the resources and tools they need to succeed. Implementation at the local level -- in this case, in King County-- has fostered close partnerships between federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement.

The case was investigated by the Federal Way Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Colasurdo. Mr. Colasurdo is a Deputy King County Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute gun and drug cases in federal court.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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