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Press Release

Mexican National Sentenced to 144 Months for Drug Trafficking in the Tri Cities

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington
Defendant Used a Child to Transport Large Quantities of Methamphetamine in the Tri-Cities Area

Richland, Washington – On March 28, 2023, Senior United States District Judge Edward F. Shea sentenced Rafael Muniz-De La Mora, 49, to 12 years in in federal prison after his guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of pure methamphetamine. Muniz-De La Mora, who is from Sinaloa, Mexico, also will serve 5 years of federal supervision after he is released from federal custody.

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, the DEA Tri-Cities Task Force identified Muniz-De La Mora and his Codefendant, Carlos Madrigal-Deniz, during an investigation into a drug trafficking organization operating in the Tri-Cities area. Madrigal-Deniz was brokering pound quantity transactions for the drug trafficking organization, which routinely was distributing 100 to 200 pound shipments of methamphetamine into the Eastern Washington. During the investigation, De La Mora was identified as Madrigal-Deniz’s supplier.

In September 2020, Madrigal-Deniz made arrangements for a ten-pound delivery of methamphetamine from Muniz-De La Mora, who brought a four-year-old child to the transaction. The child was wearing a Spider-Man backpack containing approximately 10 pounds of methamphetamine. Muniz-De La Mora escorted the young child, who is seen wearing the backpack, from one vehicle to another. Muniz-De La Mora, the child, and another co-defendant then entered into the second vehicle – a Chevy Cruze. Shortly, thereafter, DEA Tri-Cities stopped the Chevy Cruze and recovered the backpack, which was inside the car, next to the child. Inside the Spider-Man Backpack, the DEA recovered 10 pounds of methamphetamine supplied by Muniz-De La Mora. Below are still shots from surveillance video of the transaction. Muniz-De La Mora appears in a black t-shirt.

Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, stated “Drug distribution continues to be a scourge in the Tri-Cities and elsewhere. It is particularly troubling that Mr. Muniz-De La Mora used a four-year old child to conceal his distribution activities”

U.S. Attorney Waldref continued: “I commend the collaborative efforts of state, local, and federal law enforcement to identify Mr. Muniz-De La Mora’s drug trafficking activities and to prevent him from further distributing this poison in our community. The people of Eastern Washington also are incredibly fortunate to be represented in federal court by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Van Marter, who spearheads federal drug prosecutions in the Tri-Cities and elsewhere in this District.”

“Mr. Muniz-De La Mora, an individual who involved a four-year-old in his drug distribution scheme, will spend a significant amount of time in prison due to the dedication of our state, local and federal partners who continue to work to keep our communities safe, healthy and free of individuals like him,” said Jacob D. Galvan, Acting Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division.

This case was investigated by the DEA Tri-Cities, the METRO Drug Task Force, United States Border Patrol, Richland Police Department, Kennewick Police Department, Pasco Police Department, and West Richland Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Van Marter.



Richard Barker 
Assistant United States Attorney and Public Affairs Officer
509-835-6311 or

Updated March 29, 2023

Drug Trafficking