Member of violent South King County street gang sentenced to prison for dealing heroin, illegal firearms possession

Police arrested Kent man on way to heroin sale with toddler in car

A judge sentenced a 28-year-old Kent man on Thursday to five years and six months in prison for dealing heroin and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Mario Parra-Cetino, a known member of the Callejones Escondidos Sureños (CES), a violent street gang based in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood, even headed to a drug deal with a toddler in his car and carried heroin in the child’s diaper bag, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

At the sentencing hearing in Seattle, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said this defendant, “seems to have no respect for the law… distributing heroin, with children in close proximity. When arrested he ran from police with a handgun in his pocket.”

Parra-Cetino pleaded guilty to the charges. He dealt drugs while he was on state probation for domestic violence as well as residential burglary, assault and harassment.

“Under the guise of being a devoted father, this defendant pedaled heroin throughout south King County – putting a child at risk of exposure to heroin and the violence that comes with drug dealing,” said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. “Federal and local law enforcement have joined forces in a concerted effort to target gang and gun violence in King County. These successful prosecutions are taking dangerous felons off the streets.”

According to records filed in the case, Parra-Cetina was identified for federal prosecution after he was arrested for illegally possessing a firearm in June 2017, shortly after his release from prison. While that state charge was pending, Parra-Certina repeatedly sold heroin to a person working with law enforcement.

On Aug. 9, 2018, Parra-Cetina was arrested while headed to a drug deal, with a 22-month old child riding in the car. In front of the child’s car seat was 65 grams of heroin. In the child’s diaper bag, adjacent to a sippy cup, officers found another 72 grams of heroin. A search of Parra-Cetina’s residence turned up two firearms as well as additional heroin.

His arrest was part of Operation East Watch, a focus by police agencies for five months last year on Kent’s East Hill after 29 shots fired incidents early in the year. All eight defendants in Operation East Watch have pleaded guilty. Three of the eight await sentencing later this year.

• Anthony Ripley, 46, of Tacoma, was sentenced in November to 10 years in prison for drug and gun possession crimes.

• Eddie Tarik Musa Bell, Jr was sentenced in November to four years in prison for distribution of methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

• Devon Parramore, 50 of Kent, was sentenced last month to 33 months in prison for distribution of methamphetamine.

• Allen Betts III, 40, of Kent, pleaded guilty of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and unlawful possession of a firearm and was sentenced last month to four years in prison.

• Anthony Colbert, 48, of Seattle, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 22.

• Neal Stringer, 46, of Kent and Des Moines, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is scheduled for sentencing in April.

• Kenyon Taylor, 39, of Federal Way, pleaded guilty in December to distribution of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He is scheduled for sentencing in March.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority. In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, DOJ leadership announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001.

The operation was led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’ (ATF) Puget Sound Regional Crime Gun Task Force and the Kent Police Department. The task force contains agents and officers from King County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Department of Corrections, Washington State Patrol, Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Marshals Service, Seattle Police Department and Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team.

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ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter
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