A single dropped handgun during an attempted robbery led to the discovery of an alleged gun and drug trafficking duo involving a Federal Way man and a Kent man.
The investigation began in late January 2023, when Federal Way Police searched the records of a firearm left behind after the attempted robbery. The firearm had been purchased by a 31-year-old Kent resident who was discovered to have also purchased 106 other firearms since June 2021.
Through surveillance, federal agents discovered that Dion Jamar Cooper, of Kent, was working with a partner who frequently drove Cooper to the store to purchase guns, and on multiple occasions received them from Cooper afterward. The driver was identified as 32-year-old De’ondre Lamontia Phillips, aka Deondre Lamontia McDougle, of Federal Way.
Phillips is not legally able to purchase or possess firearms because of previous convictions including distribution of heroin, assault and illegal firearms possession, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Investigators arrested Phillips on April 12, 2023, and a search of his vehicle, apartment and storage unit revealed equipment for drug sales and 23 firearms. Distribution amounts of fentanyl pills and methamphetamine as well as drug packaging materials and scales were among the materials located by the search, according to the Department of Justice.
Ten of these weapons located in the search had been purchased that same day by Cooper. They were mostly handguns and some had been manufactured privately and did not have serial numbers. At least 83 other weapons that investigators documented Cooper purchasing over the last two years have not been located, according to the Department of Justice.
Phillips, 32, pleaded guilty on Jan. 23 in U.S. District Court in Seattle to four federal felonies involving guns and drugs, according to U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. He pleaded guilty to possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and two counts of illegal possession of firearms.
Philips is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez on April 26.
Possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime is punishable by a mandatory minimum five years in prison to run consecutive to any sentence imposed on the other charges. Unlawful possession of firearms is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Prosecutors have agreed to recommend no more than eight years in prison, although Judge Martinez is not bound by the recommendation and is free to recommend any sentence allowed by law, according to the Department of Justice.
Cooper also has been charged in the case.
The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Seattle Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Todd Greenberg.