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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Eastern District of Washington

For Immediate Release

August 15, 2011

Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney

Contact: Thomas Rice, First Assistant U.S. Attorney
(509) 353-2767

Wapato Gang Member Sentenced as Armed Career Criminal for Firearm Possession

Yakima – Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Michael Joseph Navarro, age 31, a documented gang member from Wapato, Washington, was sentenced to 188 months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Navarro was sentenced last Friday and was previously found guilty by a jury in May of this year.

This case began in the early morning hours of April 30, 2010, when Yakima County Sheriff’s Deputies and other law enforcement officers responded to a malicious mischief call in Wapato, Washington. The deputies arrived and ultimately were involved in a foot pursuit with the Michael Navarro, who was apprehended attempting to force open the door of a known gang house. Michael Navarro is a documented member of the Original Loco Boys gang. Officers back-tracked the route of the pursuit and found a .45 caliber handgun in a shed along the route of the pursuit. Fibers embedded in the slide of the firearm matched fibers found in one of the defendant's pockets.

Based on his prior criminal history, which included at least three crimes of violence, the Court found that Michael Navarro was an armed career criminal. A felon who has three prior convictions for crimes of violence or controlled substance offenses is considered an armed career criminal and is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 months (15 years) in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison. At sentencing, the Court observed that Michael Navarro previously served 101 months in prison for robbery after which he was in the community for only 2 months before he committed his next crime, a drive-by shooting in 2005.

Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said, The message should be clear, if you are a felon and you possess a firearm, the penalties will be severe. If you are an Armed Career Criminal, you will face a 15-year mandatory prison sentence. The safety of the community demands these sanctions.

This investigation was conducted by the Wapato Police Department, the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, the Yakima Nation Tribal Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. This case was prosecuted by Alex Ekstrom, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.