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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Airway Heights man sentenced to 8 years in federal prison for intent to distribute meth

A 28-year-old Airway Heights man was sentenced to eight years in federal prison after deputies found multiple drugs and a stolen gun inside the man’s vehicle during a Whitman County traffic stop in 2021.

Joseph Baker was convicted of possession with intent to distribute 5 grams of pure methamphetamine. U.S. District Court Judge William Fremming Nielsen sentenced Baker this week, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of Washington.

The Whitman County Sheriff’s Office stopped Baker Nov. 22, 2021 in the Colfax area, the attorney’s office news release said. Baker, who appeared extremely nervous and was shaking uncontrollably, was unable to produce a driver’s license and told a deputy his driver’s license was suspended, prosecutors said.

Baker was asked to get out of his car, and the deputy noticed a bag of heroin on the floor. Deputies searched Baker and found methamphetamine in his pocket and just over $800. Baker admitted the money was from drug sales and a loaded handgun in his car may have been stolen, according to the release.

The sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant and located over 100 fentanyl-laced pills, about 2 ounces of meth, 2 ounces of heroin, two digital scales with drug residue on them and a loaded semi-automatic firearm that deputies learned was stolen from the Spokane area about a week before the traffic stop.

After Baker’s federal indictment, he was released to attend drug treatment. After about one week in treatment, Baker left and was a fugitive for close to seven months before he was located and arrested again, according to prosecutors.

“Mr. Baker brought dangerous drugs into our community and possessed stolen firearms that put our neighborhood at risk,” Vanessa Waldref, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said in the release. “Today’s sentence reaffirms our office’s commitment to prevent violence and holding individuals accountable for their crimes.”