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Press Release

Local Spokane Large Scale Prolific Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 19.5 Years in Federal Prison Following Seizure of Multiple Pounds of Methamphetamine and Heroin

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington
Spokane Resident Sentenced in Federal Court

Spokane – William D. Hyslop, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that James Matthew Ethrington, age 33, a resident of Spokane, Washington, was sentenced today after having pleaded guilty on September 3, 2020, to possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of actual (pure) methamphetamine. United States District Judge Thomas O. Rice sentenced Ethrington to a 235 month term of imprisonment, to be followed by a five year term of court supervision after he is released from federal prison.

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, in August, 2019, the Spokane Police Department conducted a traffic stop of James Ethrington when they observed suspicious activity related to a potential stolen vehicle. Ethrington identified himself and informed the officer that his driving status was suspended. During the contact, the officer observed common drug-use paraphernalia in the driver’s area of the vehicle. Ethrington was arrested on an unrelated warrant. A subsequent search of Ethrington and his vehicle revealed approximately $9,953 in U.S. Currency and counterfeit currency, approximately 5 pounds of methamphetamine, and approximately 1 pound of heroin. Additionally, there was a cup with heroin residue, two digital scales, and empty plastic bags with heroin residue in them, which all indicate the conversion of large quantities of controlled substances into smaller quantities for sale.

During sentencing it was noted Ethrington had been caught with pound-quantities of methamphetamine as well as heroin during three separate law enforcement contacts over the course of about 9 months. Each time, Ethrington also had possession of a large sum of U.S. Currency and a new vehicle. The Court also noted Ethrington has a lengthy, concerning criminal history, including multiple felony drug and theft-related charges spanning over the course of the last approximately 10 years. Ethrington also has an outstanding warrant from the State of California related to the alleged theft of gold coins. Judge Rice noted during the sentencing that Ethrington has one of the highest criminal history scores he has seen.

According to court records, this case is part of a global resolution with the State of Washington where Ethrington also pled guilty to ten additional felonies, including Attempt to Elude Law Enforcement, Possession of a Stolen Firearm, Trafficking in Stolen Property, Identity Theft, and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver.

United States Attorney Hyslop said, “James Ethrington is a repeated large scale prolific drug trafficker. He has engaged in repetitive serious criminal conduct causing irreparable harm to families and our community. With the Court sending him to federal prison under this significant sentence, he is removed from Spokane and is no longer a threat to the safety of our residents.”

Hyslop went on to state, “The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington commends the excellent work of law enforcement officers with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Spokane Police Department who investigated this case. This is one more excellent example of where Federal and local law enforcement working together can remove bad criminals from our streets. We thank them for the great work they do every day.”

This case was investigated by the Spokane Resident Office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Spokane Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Caitlin A. Baunsgard, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.  

Updated December 3, 2020

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 2:20-CR-22-TOR