First Defendants in “Operation East Watch” Sentenced to Prison
Project Safe Neighborhoods Operation focused on Violence on Kent’s East Hill
The first two defendants in a five-month operation focused on gun violence in the East Hill area of Kent, Washington were sentenced this week to significant prison terms, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. ANTHONY RIPLEY, 46, of Tacoma, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to ten years in prison for drug and gun possession crimes. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones noted RIPLEY had spent much of his adult life in prison, and imposed five years of supervised release to follow the ten-year prison sentence.
“In the first half of 2018, there were 29 shots fired incidents in Kent’s East Hill neighborhood prompting law enforcement to launch a focused operation to address the problem,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “Job one was to remove those who were committing crime most likely to result in additional violence. Led by ATF and local law enforcement partners, officers developed cases against eight defendants, most of whom were illegally armed as they dealt drugs in the area. As a result of the operation, eleven guns were seized from individuals whose criminal history made them ineligible to possess firearms.”
RIPLEY was involved in methamphetamine distribution while armed with two different firearms. When law enforcement searched his Tacoma home in June 2018, they recovered two handguns and discovered an illegal marijuana growing operation. RIPLEY has multiple prior felonies including a 1997 manslaughter conviction in Pierce County in connection with a gang shooting. He has prior state (1994) and federal (2006) convictions for distributing cocaine.
“It is ATF’s core commitment to protect the public from violent career offenders like Mr. Ripley, whose continued armed drug trafficking placed the community at risk and showed contempt for law and order,” said ATF Seattle Special Agent in Charge Darek Pleasants. “Sentences like this one aim to remove violent offenders from our communities and serve to deter others.”
“This is another great example of what can be accomplished when Federal Agencies like the ATF and local Law Enforcement agencies work together to address violent criminals in our communities,” said Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla. “My thanks to the task force agents and officers who conducted the investigation that led to this great outcome.”
Of the eight defendants arrested in Operation East Watch, seven have pleaded guilty and one has a change of plea hearing scheduled next week.
Eddie Tarik Musa Bell, Jr was sentenced November 26, 2018 to four years in prison for distribution of methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
These defendants are awaiting sentencing:
Allen Betts III, 40, of Kent, pleaded guilty of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Anthony Colbert, 48, of Seattle, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Neal Stringer, 46, of Kent and Des Moines, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Devon Parramore, 50 of Kent, pleaded guilty to distribution of methamphetamine.
Mario Parra-Cetina, 28, of Kent, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, and conspiracy to distribute heroin.
Kenyon Taylor, 39, of Federal Way, is scheduled for a change of plea hearing next week. He is currently charged with three counts of distribution of methamphetamine.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority. In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, DOJ leadership announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001.
The operation was led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’ (ATF) Puget Sound Regional Crime Gun Task Force and the Kent Police Department. The task force contains agents and officers from King County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Department of Corrections, Washington State Patrol, Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Marshals Service, Seattle Police Department, and Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Amy Jaquette and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Manca. Ms. Manca is a Senior Deputy King County Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute gun crimes in federal court.