Jury convicts Kent man of dealing meth

Caught on tape making sale to confidential informant

A jury convicted a 32-year-old Kent man on Wednesday of distributing methamphetamine following a three-day U.S. District Court trial in Seattle.

Johnny Javier Morel-Pineda faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and up to 40 years when Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez sentences him on June 14, according to an U.S. Department of Justice news release. Morel-Pineda, a citizen of Honduras, 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 $1,200.

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

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration South Sound Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations.

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