Seattle – A 31-year-old Seattle man was convicted today in U.S. District Court in Seattle of three federal crimes related to his distribution of fentanyl pills in downtown Seattle, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Kendall Alston was arrested on March 23, 2022, after Seattle Police Officers noted his hand-to-hand drug sales. The officers had been surveilling the area of 3rd Avenue between Pike and Pine Streets as part of “Operation New Day.” The emphasis patrol was aimed at increasing public safety in the Pike/Pine corridor where drug sales had led the area to become a hot spot for other crimes including assaults and shootings.
“Mr. Alston was armed with a loaded handgun while dealing potentially deadly fentanyl pills in downtown Seattle,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “We continue to work with our federal, state, and local partners to address the sense of lawlessness that has permeated our streets. Not every case is appropriate for federal prosecution, but where guns and drugs intersect, we are prepared to use our federal resources to hold offenders accountable.”
According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, an officer in an observation point above the street witnessed a person in distinctive clothing engaging in what appeared to be a hand-to-hand drug sale. The officer returned to street level and saw the person later identified as Alston make another drug sale. Officers moved in and took Alston into custody. Alston carried 244 blue pills that were later tested and found to contain fentanyl. In his backpack, Alston carried a loaded Hi-Point .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun.
After a 3-day trial the jury deliberated about three hours before finding Alston guilty of knowingly distributing fentanyl, possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Following the guilty verdicts, Alston agreed to plead guilty to two additional counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The counts are related to his March arrest in downtown Seattle with the firearm, and a previous January 2022 arrest for shoplifting in Bellevue, where he was found to be carrying a different firearm.
Alston is prohibited from possessing firearms due to two felony convictions, a 2018 residential burglary conviction in Pierce County and a 2013 residential burglary conviction in King County.
Distribution of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a firearm are punishable by up to ten years imprisonment. Possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime is punishable by a consecutive five-year prison sentence on top of any sentence imposed on the other counts.
U.S. District Judge Lauren J. King scheduled sentencing for November 9, 2022.
The case was investigated by the Seattle Police Department with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cecelia Gregson and Casey Conzatti.