Meth Supplier in Eastern Washington Used Preschooler to Deliver Drugs in a Spider-Man Backpack


A 4-year-old boy carried a Spider-Man backpack stuffed with meth to a drug deal in Pasco in September 2020.

Now the man who was with him is going to prison.

Rafael Muniz-De La Mora, 50, of Sinaloa, Mexico, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison this week in the Richland federal courthouse by U.S. Judge Edward Shea. He pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of meth.

He also was sentenced to five years of probation.

But Muniz-De La Mora is certain to be deported after he serves his prison term, said his attorney, Ulvar Klein of Yakima, in a court document.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration learned of Muniz-De La Mora while working with a confidential informant to investigate a drug trafficking organization operating in the Tri-Cities area.

Carlos Madrigal-Deniz of Kennewick, a co-defendant in the case, was brokering methamphatamine in quantities of a pound or more and routinely distributing 100 to 200 pound shipments of methamphetamine into Eastern Washington, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for Eastern Washington.

Madrigal-Deniz also was sentenced to 12 years in prison in December after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to distributing 50 grams or more of meth.

The DEA identified Muniz-De La Mora as his supplier.

In September 2020, Madrigal-Deniz made arrangements for a delivery of 10 pounds from Muniz-De La Mora, according to court documents.

Muniz-De La Mora arrived at a Pasco car wash in a Mercedes with a 4-year-old child in the car, according to court documents.

There he met Amado De La Mora Cardenas, who had arrived in a Chevrolet Cruz.

The child got out of the Mercedes wearing a Spider-Man backpack and walked toward the Chevrolet Cruz, which Muniz-De La Mora and the child got into before it drove off.

Pasco police were alerted to stop the car, and DEA agents found the backpack next to the child. Inside the backpack was 10 pounds of meth, according to court documents.

Muniz-De La Mora and De La Mora Cardenas, were arrested. De La Mora Cardenas pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of meth, but has not been sentenced.

"Drug distribution continues to be a scourge in the Tri-Cities and elsewhere," said U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref. "It is particularly troubling that Mr. Muniz-De La Mora used a 4-year old child to conceal his distribution activities."

Muniz-De La Mora wrote a letter to the judge, saying he had embarrassed his family, including his wife and four children, and his community.

"I'm a journeyman plumber who has made a mistake and ready to learn from this and move on," he wrote.

This case was investigated by the DEA Tri-Cities, the Metro Drug Task Force, U.S. Border Patrol, Richland Police Department, Kennewick Police Department, Pasco Police Department and West Richland Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Van Marter.