A Tri-Cities meth trafficker linked to street gangs is ordered to federal prison

The Federal Building at 825 Jadwin Ave. in Richland includes a U.S. courthouse.
The Federal Building at 825 Jadwin Ave. in Richland includes a U.S. courthouse. Tri-City Herald File

A 31-year-old man with a rap sheet as long as his age is going to federal prison for trafficking methamphetamine in the Tri-Cities.

Antonio Faustino Deleon will spend 15 years and eight months behind bars, followed by five years on court supervision.

At a recent hearing in Richland’s U.S. District Court, Judge Sal Mendoza Jr. noted Deleon’s revolving-door history with the judicial system by committing “crime after crime,” and said the public needs to be protected from his future criminal activities.

Deleon also is known to affiliate with the Sureño street gang, according to federal prosecutors.

Mendoza recommended Deleon be placed in a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Sheridan, Ore., where he would have the opportunity to participate in a 500-hour substance abuse treatment program.

Deleon pleaded guilty in January to possession 500 grams or more of meth with intent to distribute , court records show.

Meth found at passenger’s feet

His co-defendant, Reynalinda Cardoza, entered a guilty plea that same month to possessing 50 grams or more of pure meth with intent to distributeit. Her sentencing is scheduled July 11.

The two were passengers in a GMC Envoy that was stopped by Kennewick’s Criminal Apprehension Team detectives in March 2018 for a report of a suspicious vehicle in a parking lot

The SUV was registered to Cardoza, who was in the back seat and found with about 26.5 grams of meth around her feet on the floorboard, according to court documents.

Deleon was in the front passenger seat.

The driver and the two passengers “displayed furtive movements” and ignored commands as detectives approached the SUV, documents said.

Deleon, who was wanted on an arrest warrant, had a plastic smoking device on him.

Sentence sends ‘clear message’

A later search of the GMC also turned up two backpacks and a purse with a digital scale, a glass smoking device, about 52 grams of heroin and two vacuum-sealed bags of meth that came to about 1 kilogram.

Detectives referred the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force for prosecution.

Joseph H. Harrington, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, commended the Kennewick and federal officers who investigated the case.

“Their seamless partnership resulted in the successful outcome of this matter,” Harrington said in a news release on Deleon’s sentencing.

“The sentence imposed by the court removes a drug trafficker from our streets and sends a clear message to others who may choose to engage in such criminal activity.”

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.