A Pendleton man is going to federal prison for more than six years for dealing illegal drugs on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
A federal court Wednesday, Jan. 21, in Portland sentenced Ulises Echevarria-Molina, 40, to 75 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release. According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon, law enforcement had identified Echevarria-Molina as part of an investigation into a fatal overdose on the reservation near Pendleton.
According to court documents, officers from the Umatilla Tribal Police Department on May 15, 2021, responded to a suspected fatal drug overdose at the Wildhorse Resort & Casino in Mission and located several counterfeit oxycodone pills believed to contain fentanyl near the dead victim. Toxicology reports later confirmed the victim had consumed fentanyl and cocaine.
Further investigation revealed the overdose victim likely obtained the fentanyl pills from a family member’s supply, and the family member had recently purchased fentanyl from a local dealer, according to the press release. Investigators soon identified Echevarria-Molina as a third-level drug distributor to the victim’s family member and on May 18, 2021, arrested him.
At the time of his arrest, Echevarria-Molina possessed approximately 1,500 fentanyl pills and $9,000 in cash on his person, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported. A search of Echevarria-Molina’s Pendleton home returned approximately 24 pounds of methamphetamine, 2 pounds of cocaine and 1,500 additional fentanyl pills. Investigators also located and seized $18,000 in cash, digital scales and various drug packaging materials from Echevarria-Molina’s residence.
Federal prosecutors on May 21, 2021, charged Echevarria-Molina with distribution or possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. A federal grand jury in Portland on May 19, 2022, returned a four-count indictment charging Echevarria-Molina with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Because of the combination of controlled substances in the toxicology results, Echevarria-Molina was not charged with the overdose death.
Echevarria-Molina pleaded guilty on Sept. 5, 2023, to possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine.
The Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team, FBI and the Umatilla Tribal Police Department investigated the case, and Cassady Adams, assistant U.S. attorney, handled the prosecution.