(The Center Square) – When federal agents detained Jody Lee Wallette on an arrest warrant following a traffic stop in March, they allegedly found hundreds of fentanyl-laced pills in his vehicle, along with quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine, a loaded firearm with extra ammunition, body armor, several cellphones and more than $4,500 in cash.
That was after a confidential informant conducted two video-recorded drug buys of meth and fentanyl pills from Wallette in January and February. During the January incident, Wallette was seen on video holding a large bag of crystal methamphetamine in addition to the pound of meth that he sold to the informant, authorities alleged. Later, they searched Wallette’s storage unit and seized more methamphetamine and ammunition.
Those drug sales led to a grand jury indictment against the 36-year-old Spokane man and his subsequent arrest following an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
On Wednesday, Wallette was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to distribution of 50 grams or more of actual (pure) methamphetamine. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice also ordered Wallette to serve five years of supervised probation upon release.
“Your distribution of fentanyl and methamphetamine kills people,” the judge told Wallette. “The amount of drugs you had was atrocious.”
Wallette qualified as a federal “career offender” based on several prior and significant drug-trafficking convictions, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern Washington.
“Mr. Wallette brought dangerous drugs into our community that put our neighborhoods at risk,” U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref said in a press release. “I am grateful for the efforts of our law enforcement partners to identify Mr. Wallette’s repeated drug trafficking activities, to prevent him from further distributing this poison, and to protect our families from drug-related violence.”
During Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Caitlin Baunsgard told the court that Wallette’s conduct “was egregious. This was not a one-time instance. Mr. Wallette’s drug trafficking and violent conduct occurred over the past 20 years.”
“Mr. Wallette knew his actions endangered our community and this sentence reflects that danger,” said Jonathan T. McPherson, ATF Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge. “Firearms, fentanyl, and methamphetamine are a losing combination that only harms society as a whole.”
When federal officers stopped Wallette in March, they allegedly found information in his vehicle linked to a November 2021 shooting in which an undercover AFT agent was seriously wounded.
The suspect in that case, 25-year-old Randy Coy James Holmes of Spokane, was also wounded in the gunfire exchange, which erupted after the two men had been discussing an illicit firearm sale and the identity of a suspected confidential informant. In July, Holmes – a documented Sureno gang member nicknamed “Whiskers” – was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to assault with a deadly weapon on a federal law enforcement officer.
Along with Baunsgard, the case against Wallette was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Van Marter.