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Press Release

College Place Man Sentenced to More Than 16 Years in Federal Prison for Drug Trafficking and Illegally Possessing Firearms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington

Richland, Washington - Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Rex Michael Kern Jr., 39, of College Place, Washington, was sentenced after pleading guilty to two counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Actual (Pure) Methamphetamine and two counts of being a Felon in Possession of Firearms. United States District Judge Mary K. Dimke imposed a sentence of 198 months imprisonment to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.

According to court documents and information presented at the sentencing hearing, early in the morning of February 11, 2022, the Walla Walla Police Department (WWPD) conducted a traffic stop of a white Hyundai hatchback. The Hyundai had been reported stolen out of Spokane a couple weeks earlier. Kern was driving and was the only occupant in the vehicle.

Officers arrested Kern and obtained search warrants for the Hyundai. Officers recovered a .22 caliber rifle, a 9mm caliber pistol, a small amount of cocaine, a half-pound of marijuana, nearly a pound of methamphetamine, two digital scales with drug residue, and $2,700 in cash from inside the vehicle. 

In July of 2022, WWPD officers saw Kern going in and out of vehicles in the driveway of a residence in Walla Walla. Officers arrested Kern on an unrelated felony warrant from Walla Walla Superior Court and conducted a search. Officers located a cell phone, marijuana, methamphetamine, and brass knuckles.

Officers obtained and executed a search warrant for one of the vehicles Kern was accessing before his arrest. Inside the vehicle, WWPD located a cell phone, two 9mm pistols – one of which had no serial number, ammunition, firearm magazines, $3,927 in cash, a half-pound of methamphetamine, 638 fentanyl pills and a small amount of marijuana. One of the cell phones recovered contained messages detailing drug transactions and photographs of fentanyl pills.

“Drug traffickers like Mr. Kern perpetuate the cycle of substance abuse disorders and fatal overdoses by trafficking dangerous drugs into our neighborhoods,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “I am thankful to all the members of our law enforcement team who work hand in hand with my office to keep our communities safe and fight the spread of illicit narcotics.”

“Felons know they’re not supposed to possess firearms,” said ATF Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Blais. “Not only didn’t Mr. Kern learn a lesson from his previous conviction, he exacerbated it by dealing in narcotics while possessing firearms.  Hopefully this sentence will finally send a message to him that he needs to change his actions.”

This case was investigated by the ATF and the Walla Walla Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brandon Pang.


Robert Curry 

Public Affairs Specialist 

Updated May 31, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses