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Man gets 10 years for JoCo drug stop

A Portland man with prior drug convictions will serve a decade in prison for trafficking pounds of methamphetamine and counterfeit pills containing the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl to Southern Oregon.

Jonathan James Lawson, 29, was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Medford to 10 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for the 10 pounds of methamphetamine and more than 2 1/2 pounds of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl that were seized in a March 7, 2021, traffic stop outside Grants Pass, according to a news advisory issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The day prior to the stop, the multiagency Rogue Area Drug Enforcement task force reportedly had knowledge that Lawson was headed from Southern California to Josephine County with a large quantity of drugs, according to a sentencing brief filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marco Boccato in Lawson’s case.

When police stopped his Volkswagen SUV on West Jones Creek Road and Foothill Boulevard, they reportedly found a tool case locked with a padlock. Inside, they found the 10 pounds of meth, 700 grams of counterfeit painkiller pills, at least one set of body armor and at least one revolver.

Law enforcement found a “Glock-style privately made firearm,” “ammunition of various calibers,” drug paraphernalia, such as scales and packaging, and another 480 grams of fentanyl pills.

Combined, the roughly 5,000 pills containing fentanyl weighed 1,180 grams or roughly 2.6 pounds, according to an affidavit filed by RADE in a Josephine County Circuit Court case that was later dismissed in order for Lawson to be prosecuted in federal court.

Lawson ultimately pleaded guilty May 9 to a single charge of possessing with intent to distributed methamphetamine. Judge Ann Aiken sentenced him on the conviction Tuesday and ordered him to begin serving his sentence immediately.

Oregon court records show in 2016 Lawson was convicted of possessing heroin in Multnomah County and convicted of delivering cocaine, identity theft and first-degree possession of a forged instrument in Washington County.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.