SPOKANE — An Ephrata man arrested in a wide-ranging 2019 drug bust led by federal authorities was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison.
Joshua Isaac Stine, 34, pleaded guilty May 28 in the U.S. District Court in Spokane to four charges related to selling methamphetamine and illegally possessing a gun. U.S. District Court Judge William Fremming Nielson sentenced Stine to 240 months in federal prison, followed by 10 years of probation.
Stine pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and a mixture or substance containing heroin; possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine; distribution of 50 grams or more of actual (pure) methamphetamine; and felon in possession of a firearm.
Investigators say Stine, also known as “Heat,” was a leader of the East Side Familia Norteno street gang and trafficked large amounts of methamphetamine and heroin, the U.S Attorney’s Office in Spokane said in a news release. Stine is also alleged to have recruited young gang members to sell drugs on behalf of himself and East Side Familia.
“As a gang member and repeated large scale prolific drug trafficker, Stine caused great harm to so many families and the community,” said U.S. Attorney William Hyslop in the news release. “With the Court’s significant sentence, Stine is now removed from the community and the public is protected from his continued criminal activities — and the inevitable violence that follows the gang subculture from which he refused to separate himself.”
During its investigation of the East Side Familia, undercover agents say they bought 6.3 pounds of meth from Stine in 11 transactions between October 2018 and May 2019, including two separate one-pound purchases, according to guilty plea documents filed in federal court.
Stine was one of 16 people charged in the July 2019 raid that included Ephrata and Moses Lake, Yakima and Warden, with one was arrested in Los Angeles. The Spokesman-Review reported that two officers and one suspect were wounded during a gunfight.
In the search, law enforcement officers from several agencies, local and federal, found pounds of methamphetamine and weapons, including assault rifles, in a “stash house,” the release said. Firearms were also located at Stine’s Ephrata home.