Skip to main content
Press Release

Readout of U.S. Attorney Waldref’s Remarks Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Spokane, Washington

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

U.S. Attorney Waldref met with state, local, federal, and community stakeholders at Spokane Fire Station No. 1 on June 4, 2024, as part of the City’s emergency declaration for implementing an integrated response to address the opioid crisis in the City of Spokane.   In her remarks at the press conference in which Mayor Lisa Brown made the emergency declaration, U.S. Attorney Waldref expressed her gratitude to the many partners and stakeholders, who gathered together to implement ideas for improving public safety in the downtown corridor. 

U.S. Attorney Waldref explained how she was born and raised in Spokane and how she and her husband proudly raise their two kids here. U.S. Attorney Waldref expressed how deeply she cares for everyone’s safety here in Eastern Washington, especially given how the Spokane community is facing an extraordinary challenge with the growing and continued influx of deadly fentanyl and other drugs.  As U.S. Attorney Waldref put it, “The fentanyl crisis is the new face of the opioid epidemic and the death and tragedy that we are witnessing are staggering. The downtown area has been hit particularly hard.” 

U.S. Attorney Waldref further remarked that the mission of her office is to build a safe and strong Eastern Washington community, which starts with building critical partnerships to have both (1) law enforcement strategies with our key partners at the Spokane Police Department and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office; and (2) proactive engagement to empower our community to protect our loved ones. U.S. Attorney Waldref further explained, “My job as the chief federal prosecutor is to set strategic enforcement priorities to identify and prosecute the most significant drivers of violent crime. Drug trafficking and violent crime are closely linked. My team works closely with DEA and all our law enforcement partners, and we have seized hundreds of thousands of poison fentanyl pills and other drugs – keeping these dangerous substances out of the hands of drug traffickers and out of our community. We are prioritizing the prosecution of fentanyl cases – vigorously seeking to disrupt the sources of drugs in our communities and to send a strong deterrent message to criminal drug networks.”

As part of her remarks, U.S. Attorney Waldref highlighted two recent cases touching on the fentanyl crises in Spokane and throughout Eastern Washington:

  1. United States v. Alexander Kosnicki involved a repeat offender, who was distributing drugs at a local charity. Mr. Kosnicki, who was convicted at trial and is awaiting sentencing, was trespassing at an apartment complex, when he was contacted by law enforcement. After he was arrested, law enforcement located a stolen gun and large amounts of fentanyl inside his sock, along with a substantial amount of U.S. currency from drug trafficking.  The case came together and was able to be prosecuted in federal court because of the incredible partnership between state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies, including the ATF, DEA,  and Spokane Police Department. 
  2. United States v. Robert Patrick Hanrahan, et. al. involved the takedown of a criminal enterprise, which operated a large scale organized crime operations in Eastern Washington, including in Spokane, Yakima, Walla Walla, and elsewhere.  Takedown included federal indictments for nearly 40 criminal defendants.  The case involved tremendous collaboration between the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Prisons, U.S Marshals Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Yakima Police Department, Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, and the Washington State Department of Corrections.  The investigation and prosecution has led to the recovery of significant quantities of drugs, guns, and drug proceeds from throughout the greater Spokane area, and throughout Washington state.

U.S. Attorney Waldref concluded her remarks by recommitting her team to seeking justice in critical cases like these and by implementing an all-hands-on-deck strategy involving prosecution, prevention, and treatment.  She explained, “We have to do more to stop the flood of these pills into our community. Federal prosecutors around the country are working closely with our Tribal, federal, state, and local partners to identify and prosecute the drug traffickers who seek to profit from the sale of these deadly substances in our communities.  We target the command and control elements of the cartels, the money launderers, and the violent and heartless individuals who choose to sell this poison.  Through our law enforcement efforts, we are seeking to hold these criminals responsible for the damage that they have caused to our communities. The impact and overall effectiveness of our joint efforts are directly dependent on the community, law enforcement, health care, prevention and social service professionals working together to mitigate the fentanyl drug threat.  I am committed to prosecuting the criminal drug cartels who put our communities and our youth at risk. Our office has been prosecuting fentanyl cases since 2016, and we will continue vigorously prosecuting these cases as part of our ongoing efforts to build safer and stronger communities in the Eastern District of Washington.”


Robert Curry

Public Affairs Specialist 

Updated June 5, 2024

Drug Trafficking