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Press Release

Kent Resident Convicted of Distributing Methamphetamine following Three Day Jury Trial

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant “Caught on Tape” Making Drug Sale

          A 32-year-old Kent, Washington resident was convicted today of distributing methamphetamine following a three day jury trial, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  JOHNNY JAVIER MOREL-PINEDA faces a mandatory minimum 5 years in prison and up to 40 years in prison when sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez on June 14, 2019.  MOREL-PINEDA is a citizen of Honduras who likely will be deported following his prison term.

            According to testimony at trial and records filed in the case, MOREL- PINEDA came to the attention of law enforcement as a source of methamphetamine in the South King County area.  A confidential informant, working with law enforcement, set up a drug deal with MOREL- PINEDA.  The telephone calls setting up the April 2018 drug deal, as well as the drug sale in MOREL- PINEDA’s car were audio recorded.  In the calls and via text message the two speak in code, calling an ounce of methamphetamine a “taco,” and pricing “four tacos” at $1200.

            The jury deliberated about 90 minutes before reaching the guilty verdict.           

            The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

            The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joshua Ferrentino and Amy Jaquette.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Public Affairs Officer Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated March 21, 2019

Drug Trafficking