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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kennewick Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison

Spokane– Joseph H. Harrington, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Anthony Joseph Cortinas, age 49, of Kennewick, Washington, was sentenced after previously having pled guilty on February 21, 2017, to Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine. Senior United States District Judge Edward F. Shea, sentenced Cortinas to a 15-year term of imprisonment, to be followed by a 5-year term of court supervision after he is released from federal prison.

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, in the early morning hours of May 29, 2015, officers with the Kennewick Police Department conducted a stop of a vehicle pursuant to a traffic violation. During the course of the stop, law enforcement officers obtained consent from the driver to search the vehicle. Both Cortinas and the driver of the vehicle disclaimed possession and ownership of multiple bags located in the rear passenger seat. One of the bags contained a safe disguised as a dictionary. Inside the safe, officers located a distribution quantity of methamphetamine. Cortinas was later identified as the owner of the safe and its contents. Cortinas was subsequently charged in Benton County Superior Court, and after posting bail, was released from the Benton County jail.

On September 9, 2015, officers with the Kennewick Police Department again encountered Cortinas during a vehicle stop for a traffic violation. Cortinas, the passenger, was arrested on an unrelated matter. The driver, a different individual than the driver of the vehicle during the prior contact, disavowed knowledge of a bag in the vehicle located behind the seat where Cortinas had been sitting. After further investigation, officers obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and located another safe, later determined to belong to Cortinas, containing a distribution quantity of methamphetamine.

At sentencing, Senior Judge Shea noted Cortinas’ lengthy history of drug distribution offenses, and the impact such crimes have on the local community.

Acting United States Attorney Harrington said, “I commend the Kennewick Police Department officers and the FBI Special Agents for their efforts in investigating this drug trafficking case. Their strong working partnership is reflected by the successful resolution of this case. Federal and local law enforcement officers in the Eastern District of Washington continue to work together to root out the scourge of drug trafficking in this District. With their assistance, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington is committed to prosecuting aggressively and seeking appropriate punishment for traffickers distributing controlled substances in our communities.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (Richland, Washington) and the Kennewick Police Department conducted the investigation of this matter. The case was prosecuted by Laurel J. Holland, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

Press Release Number: 
4:15-CR-6025-EFS
Updated June 23, 2017