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Drug transport to Bend ends in 13 years behind bars

A Medford man with a string of prior felony convictions was sentenced Wednesday to more than 13 years in federal prison for bringing heroin and meth from the Rogue Valley to the High Desert.

Christopher Michael Soares, 35, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Eugene after Bend police seized 99 grams of methamphetamine, 56 grams of heroin and a 9 mm firearm in a June 2016 traffic stop.

Soares admitted last fall to bringing the drugs from Medford with the intent to sell them in Bend, according to court documents and a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The Bend arrest occurred at the tail end of Soares’ federal probation on a 2008 conviction for felon in possession of a firearm out of U.S. District Court in Portland, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As part of a negotiated plea agreement between Soares’ public defender and state and federal prosecutors, the federal drug case will also resolve four felony cases out of Jackson County.

Jackson County Circuit Court records show multiple pending charges for Soares of attempting to elude police in a vehicle, felon in possession of a firearm, manufacturing, delivering and possessing heroin and possessing meth — all stemming from a Jackson County sheriff’s low-speed chase in September 2016 that ended near downtown Medford at 11th and South Orange streets. A Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Task Force search allegedly yielded .4 grams of black tar heroin, drug packaging, a meth pipe, digital scales and $633 in cash, according to police.

Soares also faces a first-degree theft charge in Jackson County alleging he stole more than $1,000 from Northwest Community Credit Union Feb. 27, 2017.

The Jackson County charges are still pending, but a U.S. Attorney’s Office filing from last week showed that Deputy District Attorney Melissa LeRitz agreed to seek a concurrent sentence if Soares received a minimum 151 months in federal prison.

Soares was sentenced Wednesday to 160 months — eight months fewer than federal prosecutors sought.

Court records show Soares has felony convictions dating back to 2002, after he pleaded no-contest in Jackson County to first-degree theft and fourth-degree assault surrounding a computer stolen from a Medford Fred Meyer. Other Jackson County felony convictions included identity theft in 2009, first-degree theft in 2013 and first-degree forgery in 2015.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.