United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Prison Sentence For Puyallup Man Who Dealt Large Amounts Of Prescription Narcotics
Defendant Sold Oxycodone From Smoke Shops on Tribal Land
BILLY MIRANDA FLORES, 42, of Puyallup, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 20 years in prison in connection with a major drug distribution conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. In February 2011, FLORES was convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute Oxycodone, three counts of Distribution of Oxycodone, Possession of Methadone with Intent to Distribute, and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime following a two week jury trial. The evidence at trial revealed that BILLY MIRANDA FLORES was selling hundreds or even thousands of pills of Oxycontin (oxycodone), along with methadone, each day. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton said FLORES had harmed many people. “The biggest challenge for any judge sentencing someone is distinguishing between dumb or ignorant defendants who need a break, and those criminals that are really bad. I put Billy Miranda Flores among that [latter] group. He preys on people, he has no empathy for other people,” Judge Leighton said.
“This defendant flooded his community with powerful drugs that destroyed the fabric of many lives,” said U. S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “We commend Tribal authorities who worked with federal law enforcement to stop the flow of these drugs into Native and non-Native communities.”
Six people were 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, the 18-month investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and FBI revealed that BILLY MIRANDA FLORES not only sold large amounts of Oxycontin from his smoke shop, he was also the principal supplier of Oxycontin to other members of the conspiracy who then distributed it. Danny Lee Sherwood was a key coconspirator who stored the drugs for FLORES and sold them to others. FLORES and Sherwood sold the Oxycontin for between $35 and $70 per pill, giving discounts for high-volume purchases. Over the course of the investigation, FLORES and Sherwood sold Oxycontin to a DEA undercover agent and a confidential informant working with police. Agents seized over $50,000 in cash – the proceeds of the drug sales – when the search warrants were executed in October 2009. FLORES was caught with hundreds of methadone pills, and Sherwood had hundreds of oxycodone pills in his car and a safe in his bedroom.
The Puyallup Tribe has since bulldozed the Lil Red Smoke Shop and shut down the Indian Smoke Shop.
In their sentencing memo, prosecutors wrote about the damage done by the oxycontin dealing. “Not only is the health of the individual drug users harmed, but the health and public safety of the entire community is put at risk in many ways. Increased crime, some of it violent, either to support drug habits or simply committed by those high on drugs. Persons high on drugs get into vehicular accidents or cause injuries or damage to property and lives in other ways. Drug addicts soak up medical care and take up hospital beds, as well as raise medical costs for everyone,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.
As for the other defendants in the case: Bill Celeya Flores, 60, of Tacoma, father of defendant BILLY MIRANDA FLORES was sentenced to 57 months in prison; Jay Timothy Morehead, 24, was sentenced to 18 months in prison; and Shelbie Ingham, 19, is serving a 9 month prison sentence. Tiny Bean-Flores, 29, of Tacoma and Danny Sherwood are scheduled for sentencing March 6, 2012.
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 the DEA and FBI, with assistance from a number of state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Fife, Milton, Puyallup, and Auburn Police Departments, the Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement Team, and the South Sound Gang Task Force, which includes the Tacoma and Lakewood Police Departments, and the Washington State Patrol and Department of Corrections.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Gregory A. Gruber and David Reese Jennings.