COWLITZ COUNTY MAN SENTENCED TO TEN YEAR PRISON TERM FOR DRUG AND GUN CRIMES
Defendant Served as ‘Enforcer’ for Meth Distribution Ring
MICHAEL J. WADDINGTON, 24, of Silver Lake, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to ten years in prison and four years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and being armed with a firearm in connection with a drug crime. WADDINGTON was arrested in June 2010, after a series of run ins with law enforcement. Evidence indicates he was part of a drug ring distributing highly pure methamphetamine or “ice” in Lewis and Cowlitz Counties. Judge Robert J. Bryan imposed the sentence.
The Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began investigating WADDINGTON and other members of the drug distribution ring in 2009. Information revealed that WADDINGTON and co-defendants Anthony Reisbeck, Erica Lewis, and Randy S. Chalupa were selling pound quantities of methamphetamine in and around Kelso, Washington. Law enforcement officers stopped WADDINGTON on a number of occasions related to traffic offenses and discovered he possessed methamphetamine. In January 2010, WADDINGTON was involved in a hit and run crash. Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Deputies pursued the van WADDINGTON was driving after the crash. WADDINGTON ultimately ran off the road and tried to flee. He was caught by deputies. A search of his backpack revealed methamphetamine and a stolen hand gun. WADDINGTON was stopped one last time by police on June 22, 2010, driving with a suspended license. Again he possessed methamphetamine, a silver club and metal knuckles. WADDINGTON admitted one of his roles in the drug organization was to collect drug debts. WADDINGTON has been in custody since June 23, 2010, and pleaded guilty October 8, 2010.
In asking for a significant term of imprisonment, Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey Backhus noted for the court that WADDINGTON illegally possessed multiple firearms – rifles, pistols, and a sawed-off shotgun. WADDINGTON “was convicted of assault in 2007 after he and a co-defendant punched and kicked the victim and stole the victim’s wallet, car keys and cell phone. (WADDINGTON) later threatened to harm a potential witness to the aforementioned assault/robbery, which resulted in Defendant’s 2007 conviction for tampering with a witness. Clearly, Defendant has proven himself to be an ongoing danger to the community at-large,” Mr. Backhus wrote in his sentencing memo.
The other defendants will be sentenced in early 2011. The case was investigated by The Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey Backhus.
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.