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Justice News

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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pasco Man Sentenced to Life Imprisonment following Jury Conviction for Murder in Connection with a Drug Trafficking Crime

Spokane -- Michael C. Ormsby, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington announced that Domingo Valdovinos (a.k.a. Junior), age 28, of Pasco, Washington, was sentenced to a life term in federal prison after a jury found him guilty of murder in connection with a drug-trafficking conspiracy. Senior United States District Judge W. Fremming Nielsen also imposed two 30-year terms of imprisonment for Valdovinos’s convictions for methamphetamine-trafficking offenses.

According to the information disclosed during court proceedings, during the late evening hours of February 28, 2014, the victim identified by the initials D. W. was lured to a residence on Knox Street in Spokane, Washington, under the guise of resolving a drug debt. Upon arriving at the residence, D. W. was beaten with baseball bats, tied up, and driven to a remote location in Stevens County. At that location Valdovinos and his uncle, Benito Baldovinos, doused D. W. with gasoline, shot him multiple times, then set D. W.’s body on fire. The investigation was initially conducted by the Spokane Police Department, Idaho State Police, Stevens County Sheriff’s Department and Pasco Police Department. After discovering the murder was connected to a methamphetamine-trafficking organization with ties to the Eastern District of Washington, Mexico, North Dakota and Idaho, the Spokane-based DEA and United States Attorney’s Office became involved.

At sentencing, Senior Judge Nielsen found that Valdovinos was the leader and organizer of the methamphetamine-trafficking conspiracy. Senior Judge Nielsen further recounted the heinous nature of the murder. The Judge specifically noted that the amount of drugs trafficked by Valdovinos’ organization was one of the largest he had seen in over twenty years on the Federal bench. He noted both Valdovinos’ leadership of the organization, which was responsible for upwards of 50 pounds per month of methamphetamine transported into this area, and orchestration of the murder of D.W.

Co-conspirators Benito Baldovinos, Joseph Gillespie, and Dillon Casteel, plead guilty to their involvement in the murder of D. W. Co-coconspirators Christopher Teuscher and Jorge Mednoza Sanchez, who were not implicated in the murder, plead guilty to their involvement in the methamphetamine-trafficking conspiracy.

Michael C. Ormsby said, “This case presented a perfect example of the dangers involved in the trafficking of illegal drugs. Not only did the members of this criminal organization distribute a stunning amount of drugs, but they resorted to a very violent murder as part of their operation.” USA Ormsby went on to state, “This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. The OCDETF program provides supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved in the investigation of drug-related crimes. I commend the federal, county, and local law enforcement agencies for their hard work and thorough investigation in this matter. Each individual involved made significant contributions to the successful investigation and prosecution of this case.”

This OCDETF investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (Spokane and Seattle Divisions), the Spokane Regional Drug Task Force, the Idaho State Police and the Spokane Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Stephanie A. Van Marter and Russell E. Smoot, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.

Press Release Number: 
Updated July 21, 2016