United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Former Police Officer Sentenced to Nearly Five Years in Prison for Dealing Oxycodone
Defendant Ran Tribal Smoke Shop as Front for Drug Sales
BILL CELEYA FLORES, 60, of Puyallup, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 57 months in prison and three years of supervised release for illegally possessing and distributing oxycodone and possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance (methadone). Between October 2008, and August 2009, an undercover DEA agent purchased large quantities of oxycodone from FLORES at his smoke shop, The Lil’ Red Smoke Shop in Tacoma, Washington. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton called this “a very serious offense,” and said that, “People who make their livelihood selling drugs should be punished.”
BILL CELEYA FLORES is one of six people arrested in October, 2009, following a lengthy investigation of prescription drug dealing from the Indian Smoke Shop on Puyallup Tribal Trust Land in Milton, Washington and the Lil’ Red Smoke Shop on Tribal Trust Land in Tacoma, Washington. According to records filed in the case, an18-month investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and FBI revealed that BILL CELEYA FLORES and his son Billy Miranda Flores were selling thousands of pills of Oxycontin (oxycodone) and methadone from their smoke shops. When agents searched the Lil’ Red Smoke Shop in October 2009, they found only 42 packs of cigarettes in the inventory. The profits at the shop were coming from the drug trade, not sales of cigarettes and sundries. During the course of the investigation officers seized multiple firearms from BILL CELEYA FLORES. The Lil’ Red Smoke Shop has since been bulldozed by the Puyallup Tribe.
In their sentencing memo, prosecutors argue that as a former Puyallup tribal police officer, FLORES knew all too well the damage his drug sales were doing to his community. “Each of those customers undoubtedly had his or her life adversely affected to some degree, and their health jeopardized, damaged, or destroyed, all so that defendant Flores could make an easy buck. That physical injury, while not always as obvious as a gunshot or stab wound, is just as real. Indeed, the dependency created by the drug, and supported by defendant Flores and drug dealers like him, often haunts users for the rest of their lives,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.
In handing down the prison sentence despite the defendant’s age, poor health, and lack of a criminal record, Judge Leighton acknowledged the adverse effects of drug trafficking on society. “People who get addicted on painkillers ruin a number of lives, not just their own.” He noted how drugs tear families apart, and how he’s seen parents sell their houses to pay for drug treatment for their kids on pills, and noting that “the drug pusher is at the heart of the problem.”
BILL CELEYA FLORES pleaded guilty in December 2010. Billy Miranda Flores and co-defendant Danny Lee Sherwood were convicted at trial in February 2011. Both are scheduled for sentencing next month.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The lead investigative agencies on the case were DEA and FBI, with assistance from a number of state and local law enforcement agencies.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Gregory Gruber and David Reese Jennings.