U.S. Attorney's Office - District of Oregon
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News Releases
U.S. Attorney's Office Launches Carjacking Task Force - 04/18/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon announced today that it will join 10 other U.S. Attorney’s Offices in establishing a multi-agency task force to address carjacking, an important public safety threat impacting communities in Oregon and beyond.

“We are pleased to join our Justice Department colleagues from across the country in taking this important, targeted step to address carjacking, a dangerous, violent crime. We thank all our law enforcement partners for their ongoing commitment to protecting Oregonians through this and other violent crime reduction efforts.” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

“The Justice Department has no higher priority than keeping our communities safe. We do so by targeting the most significant drivers of violent crime and by acting as a force multiplier for our state and local law enforcement partners. We’re seeing results — with violent crime declining broadly nationwide,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. “Today, we are launching seven new carjacking task forces across the country to build on the success of task forces in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Tampa, where available data shows that carjacking rates are now falling. When prosecutors, officers, agents, and analysts come together to crunch data, share intelligence, and apply best practices, we can make real progress in the fight against all forms of violent crime, including carjacking.”

In keeping with the Justice Department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime, the District of Oregon carjacking task force will focus federal resources on identifying, investigating, and prosecuting individuals responsible for committing carjackings and related crimes throughout the state. 

Carjacking task forces have proven to be an effective part of successful violent crime reduction strategies by focusing on a significant driver of crime and taking violent offenders off the streets. For example, carjackings in Philadelphia declined by 31 percent from 2022 to 2023, and armed carjackings are down 28 percent in the District of Columbia so far this year compared to the same period in 2023. In Chicago, carjackings decreased 29 percent from their high in 2021 through the end of 2023.

Local efforts to combat carjacking have already produced positive results. On Tuesday, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a three-count indictment charging, Raheim Carter, 41, a Portland resident, with carjacking, using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, and illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. On March 15, 2024, Carter and an accomplice are alleged to have stolen a vehicle at gunpoint from a North Portland resident. Carter and the accomplice are alleged to have approached the victim while he was unloading groceries from his vehicle, demanded he hand over his keys at gunpoint, and drove off with the vehicle. The case was investigated by the Portland Police Bureau with assistance from the FBI.

The newly formed carjacking task forces will be led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) with state and local law enforcement partners.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Owners of Local Debt Consolidation Service Indicted in Federal Court, Additional Victims Sought - 04/11/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—The owners of ConsoliDebt Solutions, LLC, a debt consolidation service that operated in Oregon and other locations between April 2019 and April 2024, have been indicted in federal court for knowingly and intentionally defrauding their customers.

Javier Antonio Banuelas Urueta, 54, and Dalia Castilleja Saucedo, 38, both residents of Oregon and Washington State, have been charged in a seven-count indictment with conspiring to commit and committing mail and wire fraud.

According to the indictment, from approximately April 2019 and continuing until their arrests, Banuelas and Castilleja are alleged to have devised and carried out a scheme whereby they used ConsoliDebt Solutions to collect money and property from various clients in exchange for purported debt consolidation or reduction services. Banuelas and Castilleja directed their clients to deposit funds directly into ConsoliDebt bank accounts, transfer funds to the company, or mail in personal checks, cashier’s checks, or money orders. 

Banuelas and Castilleja are further alleged to have used client funds to pay for various personal expenses such as car leases, loan repayments, residential rent, and various wire transfers.

Banuelas was arrested Tuesday in Portland, Oregon. He made his first appearance in federal court the same day and was arraigned, pleaded not guilty, and ordered detained pending further court proceedings. Castilleja is still at large.

Mail and wire fraud are punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and three years’ supervised release per count of conviction.

Anyone with information about Banuelas, Castilleja, or ConsoliDebt Solutions, LLC, are encouraged to contact Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) by submitting a tip online at  https://www.ice.gov/webform/ice-tip-form or by calling (866) 347-2423.

This case was investigated by HSI. It is being prosecuted by Rachel K. Sowray, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Lane County Diesel Repair Shop and Shop Owner Plead Guilty to Clean Air Act Violations - 04/10/24

Shop and shop owner agree to pay criminal fines and complete terms of probation

EUGENE, Ore.—A Lane County, Oregon, diesel repair shop and its owner pleaded guilty today in federal court to knowingly and intentionally tampering with pollution monitoring devices on at least 184 vehicles in violation of the Clean Air Act.

Diesel & Offroad Authority, LLC, located in Veneta, Oregon, and its owner and operator, Christopher Paul Kaufman, 38, a resident of Veneta, pleaded guilty to tampering with pollution monitoring devices.

As part of their plea agreements, Diesel & Offroad Authority and Kaufman have agreed to pay $150,000 each in criminal fines and serve three years terms of probation. 

“Diesel & Offroad Authority and its owner put profits over our community’s health and safety by amplifying diesel engines’ noxious fumes,” said Nathan J. Lichvarcik, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eugene and Medford Branch Offices. “We will continue working closely with our partners at EPA to hold accountable businesses that violate our nation’s environmental protection laws.”

“The defendants in this case illegally tampered with the onboard diagnostics systems and removed the emissions control components from hundreds of diesel trucks,” said Special Agent in Charge Lance Ehrig of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA CID) in Oregon. “The pollution that results from vehicle emissions can lead to serious health conditions and has been linked to increased respiratory disease and childhood asthma. This guilty plea demonstrates that EPA will vigorously prosecute those who violate laws designed to protect our communities from harmful air pollution.”

According to court documents, beginning in at least 2018 and continuing through 2022, Diesel & Offroad authority tampered with and disabled emissions control systems of at least 184 diesel vehicles in violation of the Clean Air Act. Diesel & Offroad Authority charged its customers approximately $2,300 each for the emissions modifications and collected more than $378,000 for the unlawful services over an approximately four-year period.

As owner of Diesel & Offroad Authority, Kaufman oversaw and participated in the illegal modification of vehicles, including by procuring various automotive parts used in the process and engaging in and directing employees in the removal of emissions control equipment.

On March 12, 2024, Diesel & Offroad Authority and Kaufman were charged by federal criminal information with violating the Clean Air Act by tampering with pollution monitoring devices.

Diesel & Offroad Authority and Kaufman will be sentenced on July 17, 2024.

This case was investigated by EPA CID. It is being prosecuted by William M. McLaren, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

If you witness an environmental event that may lead to an immediate threat to human health or the environment, please call 9-1-1. After alerting local emergency authorities, please also report incidents to the EPA’s Report a Violation website (https://echo.epa.gov/report-environmental-violations) or by calling the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Medford Man Indicted in Federal Court for Illegally Selling Explosives - 04/04/24

MEDFORD, Ore.—A federal grand jury in Medford returned an indictment today charging a local man with illegally possessing and selling explosives.

Wesley Allen Armstrong, Jr., 56, a Medford resident, has been charged with distributing explosives by a non-licensee, possessing with intent to distribute and distributing fentanyl, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, in March 2024, detectives from the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Team (MADGE) notified special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) of Armstrong’s alleged possession of and desire to sell explosives. On March 27, 2024, Armstrong was arrested after selling eight cast explosives, seven non-electric shock tube detonators, and a small quantity of fentanyl. Investigators executed a search warrant on Armstrong’s vehicle and located and seized a loaded pistol and an additional quantity of fentanyl.

On March 28, 2024, Armstrong was charged by federal criminal complaint with dealing explosives without a license, possessing stolen explosives, possessing explosives as a convicted felon, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, and possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl; made his first appearance in federal court; and was ordered detained pending further court proceedings. He will be arraigned on today’s indictment at a later date.

This case was investigated by ATF and MADGE. It is being prosecuted by Marco A. Boccato, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

MADGE is a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force that identifies, disrupts, and dismantles local, multi-state, and international drug trafficking organizations using an intelligence-driven, multi-agency prosecutor-supported approach. MADGE is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and is composed of members from the Medford Police Department, the Jackson County Sheriff and District Attorney’s Offices, the Jackson County Community Corrections, FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives, including MADGE.

An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Nevada Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Stealing Covid Relief Funds - 04/04/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Nevada man with a lengthy criminal history was sentenced to federal prison today for stealing more than $163,000 in Covid relief program funds while on supervised release for two separate state criminal convictions.

Justin David Goulet, 36, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $163,100 in restitution to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

According to court documents, in late December 2020, Goulet was released from Oregon state prison after completing concurrent sentences for felony forgery and theft. Less than four months after his release from prison, in April 2021, Goulet devised a scheme to defraud SBA of funds appropriated by Congress to help businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Specifically, Goulet applied for two Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and successfully obtained one for $163,100.

To support his fraudulent applications, Goulet registered a straw company called Statement Venture Group, LLC, and falsely claimed to be doing business as an independent contractor while imprisoned in 2019. He further submitted bogus tax filings, including one purportedly created by a New York accounting firm, to the SBA to substantiate robust (and fictional) revenues and payrolls. Goulet used most of the $163,000 he obtained on travel, living expenses, cars, and illegal drugs.

On February 8, 2022, a federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment charging Goulet with wire fraud and, on August 30, 2022, he pleaded guilty.

This case was investigated by the SBA Office of Inspector General and the FBI. It was prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Since January 2021, more than 50 people have been charged in the District of Oregon for their roles in fraud schemes targeting federal Covid relief programs. Together, these defendants attempted to steal more than $778 million in federal funds. 23 individuals have been convicted for their crimes and sentenced to a combined total of 477 months in federal prison and 894 months of probation and/or supervised release. 

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Justice Department’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
$6 Million Worth of Oregon Properties Forfeited in Connection to Interstate Marijuana Trafficking Organization - 04/01/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon announced today that it has forfeited on behalf of the United States 14 real properties located in Oregon—together worth more than $5.7 million—that were used by an interstate drug trafficking organization to illegally grow marijuana for redistribution and sale in other states. The owner of a 15th property agreed to pay the government $400,000 in lieu of having their property forfeited.

Beginning at an unknown time, and continuing until September 2021, the properties, located in Clatsop, Columbia, Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties, were used as illegal marijuana grow houses by an interstate drug trafficking organization led by Fayao “Paul” Rong, 53, of Houston, Texas. On July 19, 2023, after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, Rong was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

“This prosecution and yearslong effort to forfeit properties used by the Rong organization to grow and process thousands of pounds of marijuana demonstrate the long reach of our commitment to holding drug traffickers accountable and mitigating the damage these criminal organizations inflict on neighborhoods and communities,” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

“The goal of drug traffickers is to generate profits through their crimes,” said David F. Reames, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Seattle Field Division. “The DEA and our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon and the Oregon State Police worked hard in this case to investigate and forfeit the ill-gotten gains of this organization, benefiting our entire community.”

“The Oregon State Police is committed to disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations operating within our state. Our priorities include safeguarding Oregon’s natural resources and mitigating the impact illicit marijuana has on them,” said Tyler Bechtel, Oregon State Police (OSP) Lieutenant. “This case is a great example of the results that can be achieved when all levels of law enforcement work together toward our common goals.”

According to court documents, Rong purchased numerous residential houses in Oregon using several different identities and, with others in his organization, used them to grow and process marijuana and prepare it for transport to states where its use remains illegal. In a 12-month period beginning August 2020, Rong’s organization trafficked more than $13.2 million dollars in black market marijuana.

In early September 2021, a coordinated law enforcement operation led by DEA and OSP targeted Rong’s organization. Federal, state, and local law enforcement partners executed search warrants on 25 Oregon residences and Rong’s home in Houston. During the precipitating investigation and ensuing search warrants, investigators seized nearly 33,000 marijuana plants, 1,800 pounds of packaged marijuana, 23 firearms, nine vehicles, $20,000 in money orders, and more than $591,000 in cash.

The Rong organization takedown followed a 14-month investigation initiated by OSP after the agency learned of excessive electricity use at the various properties, which, in several instances, resulted in transformer explosions. Multiple citizen complaints corroborated law enforcement’s belief that Rong was leading a large black market marijuana operation. With the assistance of the Columbia and Polk County Sheriff’s Offices, OSP found associated marijuana grows in Clatsop, Columbia, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, and Polk Counties. On February 18, 2022, Rong was arrested by DEA agents in Houston.

This case was investigated by DEA, OSP, and the U.S. Marshals Service with assistance from the FBI; Homeland Security Investigations; Oregon Department of Justice; Portland Police Bureau; the Yamhill, Clatsop, Marion, Multnomah, Columbia, and Polk County Sheriff’s Offices; Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team; and Linn Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. Forfeiture proceedings were handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Division.

The proceeds of forfeited assets are deposited in the Justice Department’s Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF) and used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of other law enforcement purposes. To learn more about the AFF, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/afp/assets-forfeiture-fund-aff.

This prosecution is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the U.S. by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Portland Man Caught Selling Drugs to Minors Online Faces Federal Charges - 03/28/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Portland man is facing federal charges after he was caught using Telegram, an encrypted messaging service, to sell various controlled substances to minors.

Rocky Allan Rainwater, 24, has been charged by criminal complaint with distributing and possessing with intent to distribute cocaine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, early in 2024, law enforcement obtained information that an individual, later determined to be Rainwater, was allegedly using Telegram to advertise the sale of various illegal narcotics including cocaine, psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA, ketamine, LSD, Xanax, Adderall, and marijuana. In addition to delivering drugs locally, Rainwater, using the Telegram username “smokeyinpdx,” also advertised that he would sell and ship drugs to out-of-state customers. Investigators soon determined that Rainwater was advertising and selling drugs to both adults and minors.

On March 22, 2024, law enforcement arrested Rainwater while he was engaged in a cocaine sale. Investigators searched his vehicle and located a loaded .22 caliber pistol, 73 grams of cocaine, 465 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, and smaller quantities of LSD and dextroamphetamine. A subsequent search of Rainwater’s Portland residence returned additional quantities of cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamine, an electronic scale, .22 caliber ammunition, and $1,490 in cash.

Rainwater made his first appearance in federal court Monday before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. Today, he was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

This case was investigated by the FBI and Clackamas County Interagency Task Force (CCITF). It is being prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

CCITF, led by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, works to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating in and around Clackamas County, and reduce illegal drugs and related crimes throughout the community. The task force is comprised of members of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Canby Police Department, Oregon State Police, FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). CCITF is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Portland Area Fentanyl Trafficker Sentenced to Federal Prison - 03/27/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A local drug trafficker who sourced large quantities of fentanyl from out-of-state contacts with ties to Mexican cartels for redistribution and sale in the Portland area and directed the transport and sale of firearms was sentenced to federal prison today.

Francisco Moncada, 28, who maintained residences in Portland and Vancouver, Washington, was sentenced to 108 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, in October 2021, special agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Portland District Office began investigating a drug trafficking organization operating in the Portland area and parts of Washington State. In April 2022, investigators learned that Moncada, who was later determined to be a manager within the drug trafficking organization, was communicating with multiple Portland area drug traffickers to discuss fentanyl sourcing.

On April 18, 2022, law enforcement officers stopped a vehicle being used by Moncada and several associates to transport approximately 15 pounds of fentanyl. Just under two weeks later, on April 28, 2022, officers stopped Moncada a second time and seized an additional 10 pounds of fentanyl. Within days, investigators also obtained information that Moncada had instructed other members of his organization to sell various firearms.

On May 20, 2022, investigators searched Moncada’s Portland and Vancouver residences and seized seven firearms and two pounds of fentanyl. Between October 2021 and August 2022, investigators located and seized 50 pounds of fentanyl, 40 pounds of methamphetamine, and smaller quantities of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana from Moncada and his associates, and made 16 arrests connected to their organization.

On May 21, 2022, Moncada and three others were charged my federal criminal complaint with conspiring with one another to possess and possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl. On June 14, 2022, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a six-count indictment charging Moncada and eight associates for conspiring with one another to distribute fentanyl. Moncada was also charged with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

On December 20, 2023, Moncada became the tenth member of his organization to plead guilty and, today, becomes the seventh member to be sentenced to federal prison. Four others are awaiting sentencing and one is a fugitive.

This case was investigated by DEA with assistance from the FBI Vancouver Resident Agency, Vancouver Police Department, Oregon State Police, Oregon City Police Department and Washington State Department of Corrections. It was prosecuted by Bryan Chinwuba, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

This prosecution is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the U.S. by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release