Examples of Narcotics-Related Investigations - Fiscal Year 2014
The following examples of narcotics-related investigations are written from public record documents on file in the courts within the judicial district where the cases were prosecuted.
Missouri Man Sentenced for Money Laundering and Drug Conspiracy
On Aug. 11, 2014, in Springfield, Missouri, Michael J. Saguto, of Kirbyville, was sentenced to 84 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $1,354,034 jointly with his co-defendants. Saguto pleaded guilty on March 20, 2014, to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, between March 1, 2011, and June 24, 2013, Saguto conspired with others to defraud the Food and Drug Administration and the public by falsely representing that a number of synthetic cannabinoid products were "incense" or "potpourri" and "not for human consumption." In reality, Saguto admitted, these substances contained compounds that were intended for human consumption as a drug. Saguto also admitted that he and another individual conducted financial transactions that involved the proceeds of the unlawful mail fraud conspiracy. They conspired to wire funds to the People's Republic of China in order to carry out the conspiracy.
Pill-Mill Doctor Sentenced to Prison
On Aug. 8, 2014, in Savannah, Georgia, Dr. Najam Azmat, of Waycross, was sentenced to 132 month in prison. On Jan. 17, 2014, Azmat was found guilty of conspiracy to dispense oxycodone and other drugs without legitimate medical purpose, dispensing without legitimate medical purpose and conspiracy to launder money. According to court documents, Azmat worked at East Health Center from February 21 to March 18, 2011. During that time, he wrote prescriptions for 196 patients, 96% of whom received prescriptions for oxycodone. Other co-defendants related to the phony pain clinic operation have also been sentenced receiving prison terms from 13 months to 54 months in prison.
Pennsylvania Man Sentenced for Oxycodone Trafficking and Money Laundering
On July 25, 2014, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jason Weitzner was sentenced to 120 months in prison and six years of supervised release. Weitzner previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, Weitzner was the leader of a large oxycodone distribution ring. Weitzner procured fraudulent prescriptions from doctors in Florida, and then used runners to fly to Pittsburgh and fill these oxycodone prescriptions at various pharmacies in the metro Pittsburgh area. Weitzner then sold the obtained oxycodone pills to local Pittsburgh drug dealers.
Second of Four Spice Conspirators Sentenced
On July 10, 2014, in Boise, Idaho, Robert Eoff was sentenced to 26 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Eoff and three co-conspirators were indicted for conspiring to purchase and import from China chemicals, which they used to treat innocuous plant matter to make spiceCa synthetic cannabinoid and conspiring to launder money illegally obtained through spice manufacturing and distribution. According to court documents, beginning in March 2011, Eoff entered into a conspiracy with co-conspirators to conduct financial transactions in connection with a “spice” manufacturing and distribution business. Eoff participated and assisted in the financial activity of the business by engaging in bank and other financial transactions, through both domestic and foreign financial institutions. The transactions consisted of the proceeds of prior illegal spice sales and other specified unlawful activity.
Leader of Heroin and Cocaine Drug Ring Sentenced to Prison
On July 10, 2014, in Birmingham, Alabama, Billy Williams, Jr., was sentenced to 262 months in prison for his role in leading one of Birmingham’s largest heroin and cocaine trafficking rings. Williams pleaded guilty in December 2013 to participating in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and to various other drug charges and money laundering. The investigation focused on Williams, a large-scale heroin and cocaine distributor, and his network of operators. The investigation culminated in the January 25, 2013, arrest of Sammuel Dewayne Gulley, a key member of Williams’ organization, who was arrested in possession of two kilograms of nearly pure heroin following a high-speed chase. Later that night, agents seized over one and a half kilograms of cocaine from a home associated with Williams and Gulley. During his arrest in late May 2013, Williams threw over $60,000 in cash out of the window of his 12th floor condo. From the condo, agents recovered over $166,000 in cash and over $177,000 in jewelry and other valuables. Also sentenced were Abe Johnson, who received a 54 -month sentence; Marion Reyonlds, Jr., who was sentenced to 48 months; Walter Johnson, who was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison; Deandre Murrell, who was sentenced to a 240 month prison term; Sammuel Gulley, who was sentenced to 120 months in prison; Grady Jenkins who received a 37-month sentence and Vernon Mcadory, who was sentenced to six months custody and six months home confinement. Prentice Tanniehill, was sentenced to 4 months in prison for his role in assisting Williams in laundering money and for causing false IRS forms to be filed. The prosecution led to the forfeiture of large amounts of cash, three vehicles valued at over $200,000, and eight money judgments of $5 million were levied against the defendants.
California Man Sentenced on Narcotics Conspiracy and Money Laundering Charges
On July 2, 2014, in Concord, New Hampshire, Jon Hagstrom, of North Hollywood, California, was sentenced to 126 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $90,000 in property to the United States. Hagstrom previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and more than 1000 kilograms of marijuana, conspiracy to commit money laundering and aiding and abetting the possession of more than 5 kilograms of cocaine with the intent to distribute. According to court documents, Hagstrom participated in a narcotics conspiracy and was the source of more than 150 kilograms of cocaine. Hagstrom worked with other co-conspirators to coordinate the transport of the cocaine from California to New England. On each occasion, the Hagstrom directed couriers to transport approximately 25 to 50 kilograms of cocaine. Hagstrom also directed the couriers to pick up millions of dollars in marijuana drug proceeds and transport those drug proceeds back to him in California. Hagstrom also used private jets to pick up illegal marijuana drug proceeds.
Two Mississippi Residents Sentenced For Laundering Drug Money
On June 27, 2014, in Jackson, Mississippi, Lornell Von Moore, and Patrina Bester Hayes, both of Paulding, were sentenced for conspiracy to launder drug money. Moore was sentenced to 178 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He is currently serving nine years in federal prison for narcotics distribution. Hayes was sentenced to 100 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release. The defendants were ordered to forfeit, jointly and severally, $1 million. According to court documents, Moore garnered over $2 million in drug profits in a two year period beginning in 2008. Moore and Hayes operated LVM Trucking and washed millions of dollars of drug profits through the trucking company’s bank accounts as well as their private bank accounts. As a result of the investigation, a large amount of property associated with the money laundering conspiracy was seized. The property included vehicles, tractors, trailers, houses and firearms.
Oklahoma Man Sentenced in Drug-Related Money Laundering Conspiracy
On June 24, 2014, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Moises Alberto Yanez, of Tulsa, was sentenced to 240 months in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, from June 2011 through November 2012, Yanez admitted to making rental payments on two properties in Tulsa that were rented for the purpose of storing and distributing marijuana and methamphetamine. Yanez also admitted to making the rental payments using money he received from selling marijuana and methamphetamine, which he and other conspirators received from California, Texas, and elsewhere. Other defendants who have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced in this investigation on various drug-related offenses are:
• Oscar Fuentes-Diaz
• Terry Leon King
• Maicol Nunez-Guardado
• Jose Robles Arechiga
• Orlando Keane Jordan
• Jennifer Madison Ramirez
• Luis Sigala
• John Mark McGinley will be sentenced at a later date.
Yanez, Fuentes-Diaz, Nunez-Guardado, and Arechiga were also ordered to pay a joint criminal forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $117,000.
Minnesota Man Sentenced on Drug and Money Laundering Charges
On June 23, 2014, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Irineo Serio Moreno was sentenced to 120 months in prison, five years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit land in California and a 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe. On July 12, 2013, Moreno agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to distribute marijuana and money laundering. According to his plea agreement, from at least January 2009 through December 20, 2012, Moreno conspired with others to distribute 1000 kilograms of marijuana from California to Minnesota. In addition, Moreno owned land in Northern California where he operated a marijuana grow farm, hiring and paying others to tend to the marijuana plants. In addition, Moreno laundered the proceeds from the sale of the marijuana by purchasing assets.
Two ‘Pill Mill’ Owners Sentenced for Drug and Money Laundering Charges
On June 19, 2014, in Atlanta, Georgia, Jason Cole Votrobek and Roland Rafael Castellanos, owners of the Atlanta Medical Group, were each sentenced to 180 months in prison. Both Votrobek and Castellanos were convicted on Mar. 26, 2014, on federal drug and money laundering charges for owning and operating a ‘pill mill’ pain clinic that served as a front for the mass distribution of addictive pain killers. According to court documents, Votrobek, of Vero Beach Florida, and Castellanos, of Hollywood, Florida, and another individual financed and operated the clinic. Votrobek and Castellanos worked to procure and distribute Oxycodone pills to addicts and distributors. They directed the clinic’s doctor to see as many patients as possible and to prescribe as many Oxycodone pills as possible in order to generate mass profits. The clinic engaged in unusual practices to maximize the number of patients seen. In 2011, the clinic was one of the ‘Top 15’ purchasers of Oxycodone in the nation. Votrobek and Castellanos established multiple bank accounts, many in third party names, to conceal the windfall profits.
Former Drug Cartel Member Sentenced for Drug Trafficking Conspiracy and Money Laundering
On May 15, 2014, in Wilmington, Delaware, Miguel A. Lavenant, of San Diego, California, was sentenced to 293 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Lavenant was previously convicted of conspiring to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and three counts of money laundering. According to court documents, Lavenant shipped over 50 kilograms of cocaine from San Diego to the East Coast. Some of the cocaine for which Lavenant was responsible was later distributed in the State of Delaware. Lavenant’s customers on the East Coast, including in Delaware, paid for their cocaine by making large-scale cash deposits into different bank accounts that Lavenant controlled.
Mississippi Resident Sentenced for Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering
On May 15, 2014, in Jackson, Mississippi, Kelvin Robinson, of Bolton, was sentenced to 172 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, and money laundering. According to court documents, Robinson operated K&J Trucking in Bolton, Mississippi. From 2006 through 2012, he used his trucks to transport thousands of pounds of marijuana from the Texas/Mexico border into Mississippi. He laundered part of his drug proceeds by purchasing a car in another person’s name. Law enforcement agents seized $7,203 in cash, a 2009 Suzuki motorcycle, a 2002 Acura RL, and a 2002 BMW 754i.
Tennessee Man Sentenced for Operating a Pill Mill
On May 6, 2014, in Knoxville, Tennessee, Randy Kincaid, of Maryville, was sentenced to 830 months on prison. Kincaid was convicted in October 2013 of drug, firearm, money laundering and structuring offenses. According to court documents, Kincaid owned and operated Breakthrough Pain Therapy Center in Maryville. A large amount of prescription narcotic pain pills, firearms and nearly $700,000 in cash were seized during a raid of the clinic. Kincaid’s wife and co-owner of Breakthrough, Sandee Kincaid, along with family members Wendi Henry and Dustin Morgan were also convicted and are presently in custody and awaiting sentencing.
Husband and Wife Sentenced on Drug Charges
On April 28, 2014, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Roger Cusick Christie and Sherryanne L. Christie, husband and wife, were sentenced to 60 months and 27 months in prison, respectively, and three years of supervised release. In September 2013, Roger Christie pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, involving 100 or more marijuana plants and two counts for failure to file federal income tax returns for calendar years 2008 and 2009. Sherryanne Christie pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, involving 50 or more marijuana plants. According to court documents, from at least about 2000 up through July 8, 2010, the Christies operated the “THC Cannabis Ministry” in Hilo, Hawaii. The Christies sold over one-half pound of marijuana “sacrament,” making about $1,000 or more in profit. They estimated that about 90 percent of the customers were Ministry members, while the remaining ten percent had state medical marijuana cards. In order to join the Ministry, prospective members were supposed to sit through an orientation session with Roger Christie. However, Roger Christie said he scheduled membership sessions with passengers on visiting cruise ships who were in Hilo for one day, and one could also join by ordering a Ministry “sanctuary kit” by mail for a $250 donation. In early 2009, the Christies instituted an “express” procedure, which made it unnecessary for prospective members to meet with the Christies in order to receive their marijuana “sacrament.” Rather, as long as the customer could pay the full amount of the “donation” price and had someone’s membership card or state medical marijuana card, that person could acquire “sacrament.” On July 8, 2010, both Christies and 12 other defendants were arrested. The Christies admitted to being leaders and organizers of the charged marijuana trafficking activities.
Texas Drug Trafficker Gets Life in Federal Prison
On April 24, 2014, in McAllen, Texas, Daniel Nunez, of Hidalgo, was sentenced to life in prison. Nunez pleaded guilty on Nov. 27, 2012 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and conspiracy to transport and attempt to transport monetary instruments to Mexico to promote drug trafficking. According to court records, Nunez had been involved in an organization that had crossed marijuana into the United States from Mexico. They would arrange to cross marijuana from Mexico through the Rio Grande River in the Military Highway area, and transport it to stash locations in Edinburg and Hargill. From there, the marijuana would be taken to another stash location where it would be loaded onto tractor trailers for further distribution in the Dallas area as well as Panama City and Orlando, Fla., and Steele, Ala. areas. Nunez also arranged to transport the proceeds of his drug-trafficking organization from various locations in Florida back to Hidalgo County, and from there, transport it into Mexico.
Doctor Sentenced for His Role in Pill Mill Operation
On April 23, 2014, in Miami, Fla., Dr. Stephen Anthony, formerly of Davie, was sentenced to 70 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $552,000 in restitution. Anthony previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute and dispense large amounts of oxycodone without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice, money laundering and income tax evasion. Anthony agreed to forfeit $338,300 in money and property representing the illegal narcotics proceeds he earned as a result of his involvement as a physician at an urgent care facility in Fort Lauderdale. According to court documents, between April 2010 and February 2011, Anthony was employed as a clinic doctor at Broward Urgent Care which, at the time, was owned by co-conspirators, Vincent Colangelo and Nicholaus Thomas. Colangelo pleaded guilty to narcotics, money laundering and federal income tax offenses on April 2, 2012, arising from his ownership of six pill mill clinics and pharmacies in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. Thomas pleaded guilty on Nov. 18, 2011 to narcotics and money laundering charges. Colangelo and Thomas sold Broward Urgent Care to Anthony after the Florida legislature enacted legislation in October 2010 requiring that pain management clinics be owned by licensed physicians. According to a review of medical records, while at Broward Urgent Care, more than 99% of Anthony’s patients received prescriptions for oxycodone. In total, Anthony prescribed 42,374,370 milligrams of oxycodone during the 10 months he worked as a physician at Broward Urgent Care. Between 2000 and 2007, Anthony evaded the payment of approximately $556,262 in individual income and employment taxes by depositing monies into a bank account in the name of a third party.
Dallas Man Sentenced for Role in Drug Conspiracy
On April 21, 2014, in Dallas, Texas, Sylvespa Eugene Adams, aka Sylvesta Adams, was sentenced to 210 months in prison and required to forfeit the proceeds of his criminal activity, which includes four houses in Dallas and seven luxury vehicles. According to plea documents, beginning in January 2010, Adams conspired with others to possess with the intent to distribute and to distribute marijuana. Couriers were sent to Tucson, Arizona, to pick up marijuana and transport it back to Dallas in suitcases on commercial airlines. Adams admitted the marijuana was stashed at his house and another house in Dallas which was used to grow marijuana plants that would be harvested for distribution to customers. Adams used Lions Entertainment LLC, Club Copa and various rental properties to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the drug proceeds by depositing them in a co-defendant’s bank account. Adams and 21 co-defendants were charged in the drug conspiracy that was outlined in a federal indictment returned by a grand jury in Dallas in December 2012. To date, 17 defendants have pleaded guilty to their role in the conspiracy. Fourteen of those defendants were sentenced to federal prison terms ranging from 7 months to 180 months.
Final Two Defendants Sentenced on Drug and Money Laundering Charges
On April 18, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa, two defendants were sentenced on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Julian Marin Gutierrez, of San Jose, Calif., was sentenced to 204 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Jose Sanchez Adame, of Marshalltown, Iowa, was sentenced to 216 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Gutierrez and Adame were convicted following a jury trial in November 2013. Gutierrez was convicted for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and two counts of money laundering. Adame was convicted for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and distribution of methamphetamine. According to court documents, from at least 2010 through 2012, the drug trafficking organization was responsible for the distribution of large quantities of methamphetamine in and around Marshalltown, Iowa. Proceeds from the sale of the methamphetamine were transported in bulk cash shipments, including $134,960 seized during a traffic stop in March 2012. Other drug proceeds were funneled through bank deposits made in Iowa and withdrawn in California. The investigation culminated in the arrests of ten individuals in Marshalltown and Ankeny, Iowa on November 20, 2012. Eight other individuals have been sentenced in this investigation to terms that range from 48 months to 144 months in prison.
Three Conspirators Sentenced for Violating Federal Narcotics and Money Laundering Laws
On April 16, 2014, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Earl Lamar, of Pittsburgh, was sentenced to 60 months in prison and five years of supervised release. On the same date, Roscoe Simpson, of Oakland, California, was sentenced to 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release. On April 17, 2014, Herbert Platt, of Hercules, California, was sentenced to 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release. All three men previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. According to court documents, the three men participated with other conspirators in a major cocaine distribution conspiracy. The conspirators transported cocaine to Pittsburgh and other areas from 2000 through 2010. The conspiracy involved over 2000 kilograms of cocaine and millions in laundered drug money. Documents and evidence revealed a large number of packages of cocaine shipped to the conspirators, as well as packages of drug money being shipped back. The conspirators transported the cocaine and money by a variety of means such as the United States Postal Service, couriers, chartered private flights and vehicles including tractor trailers.
Defendant Sentenced in Drug and Money Laundering Conspiracy Case
On March 31, 2014, in Sioux Falls, S.D., Thiphavanh Noy Khaleck was sentenced to 70 months in prison. Khaleck pleaded guilty on Oct. 7, 2013 to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, during the 2009 through 2012, Khaleck and others conspired to distribute methamphetamine and marijuana. Some members conspiracy made trips to California and Minnesota to purchase the drugs, and they and other members distributed them in the Sioux Falls area. Additionally, Khaleck and another individual conspired to commit money laundering by keeping the deposits and withdrawals of cash drug proceeds below $10,000, in an effort to avoid bank reporting requirements.
New York Man Sentenced on Drug Conspiracy and Money Laundering Charges
On March 27, 2014, in Rochester, N.Y., Albert Sturgis was sentenced to 130 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release. Sturgis was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, 50 grams or more of cocaine base, and one kilogram or more of heroin and money laundering. According to court documents, Sturgis was a well-known drug dealer operating primarily on the West side of the City of Rochester and was responsible for the distribution of cocaine in the Rochester area. Sturgis and 11 others were arrested in February 2010 after a nearly year-long investigation conducted by Federal and State authorities. Twelve defendants have been convicted and Sturgis is the eighth defendant to be sentenced.
Club Owner Sentenced for Role in Baltimore Drug Organization
On March 20, 2014, in Greenbelt, Md., Daniel Gerard McIntosh, of Sparks, Md., was sentenced to 120 months in prison and eight years of supervised release for conspiring to distribute between 100 and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, conspiring to engage in money laundering and interstate travel to further drug trafficking activities. According to evidence presented at trial, McIntosh was part of an extensive drug trafficking operation. During the execution of a search warrant at a Baltimore residence, agents seized more than 80 pounds of marijuana, $30,000 in cash, 30 cell phones, tally sheets showing over $14.5 million in marijuana sales, four money counters and false identifications. In June 2008, McIntosh recruited Philip Parker to pick up marijuana in California and transport the marijuana to Maryland in Parker’s tractor trailer. It was estimated that between September and December 2008, Parker made two trips a month, with loads ranging from 300-600 pounds of marijuana. On one occasion, McIntosh asked a co-conspirator to deliver $1 million to Parker to transport to California to pay for the marijuana. From 2006 to early 2008, McIntosh used another individual to deliver hundreds of pounds of marijuana to his customers and to collect their payments. McIntosh furthered the drug organization’s business through money laundering. McIntosh was the manager, and as of June 2007, the majority owner of the Sonar Club in Baltimore. During the previous year, the business had lost $400,000. Once McIntosh took over the business, the leader of the drug organization became a silent partner who funded the business, which continued to lose thousands of dollars each year. A total of 12 defendants have been convicted in this case and sentenced to up to 121 months in prison.
South Dakota Man Sentenced in Synthetic Drug and Money Laundering Case
On March 18, 2014, in Sioux Falls, S.D., Corey Brandon Morrison was sentenced to 34 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Morrison pleaded guilty on May 17, 2013, to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analogue and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity. According to court documents, beginning around September 2011, two or more persons formed an agreement to distribute an illegal drug to customers from one or more Roll With It store locations in Sioux Falls. The illegal product, commonly referred to as spice or K2, is made by treating plant material with certain chemicals that are controlled substance analogues. Morrison sold controlled substance analogues to the Roll With It stores. In addition, on or about September 16, 2011, Morrison deposited $12,500 cash into his personal bank account, which were proceeds from the illegal distribution of controlled substances.
Indiana Woman Sentenced for Drug Conspiracy and Money Laundering
On Feb. 25, 2014, in Evansville, Ind., Ruby Ramsey, of Davies County, Ind., was sentenced to 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Ramsey pleaded guilty on Jan. 23, 2014, to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and money laundering. According to court documents, Ramsey admitted that she was involved in sending parcels containing methamphetamine to southwestern Indiana and distributing large amounts in the Pike County area. She also deposited approximately $3,000 at a bank in Washington, Ind., from proceeds of methamphetamine sales.
Texas Drug Conspiracy and Money Laundering Ring Leader Sentenced
On Feb. 21, 2014, in Corpus Christi, Texas, Jose Fidel Guajardo, a leader of a drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy, was sentenced to 360 months in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit his interest in a property in Corpus Christi. Other co-conspirators have received sentences ranging from 360 months to 85 months in prison. The indictment charged all of the defendants with conspiring from June 1, 2008, to Jan. 8, 2013, to possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. The investigation revealed Guajardo, a member of the Texas Syndicate prison gang, orchestrated various drug deals in the Corpus Christi area. Guajardo pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder the proceeds of the drug sales through various financial transactions. Evidence showed that Guajardo invested significant amounts of cash into the material, labor and services supplied in the building of homes in the Corpus Christi area. Agents determined this cash was the proceeds of illegal drug sales. As part of his plea agreement, Guajardo also agreed to forfeit his interests in various properties around Corpus Christi.
Worldwide Drug Trafficker Sentenced
On Feb. 20, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif., Shiraz Malik, a Pakistani national residing in Warsaw, Poland, was sentenced to 180 months in prison. Malik was arrested at the Prague International Airport on Sept. 8, 2011, and was extradited on June 22, 2012, from the Czech Republic to the United States. He pleaded guilty on Oct. 7, 2013 to conspiring to distribute controlled substances and listed chemicals, conspiring to import controlled substances and ephedrine into the United States, and conspiring to launder money. According to court documents, from June 1, 2008, through Sept. 8, 2011, Malik sold pharmaceuticals and highly regulated chemicals to customers in the United States, Europe and other countries and conspired to launder the profits of that activity. Malik took orders from customers via the Internet and coordinated with people in Pakistan to fill the orders. In the course of the three-year investigation, law enforcement agents made eight undercover purchases of various drugs from Malik that were shipped from a post office in Lahore, Pakistan to addresses in the Sacramento area. In each instance, the purchase request was sent to Malik via email and payment instructions were sent by Malik to the undercover agent. Malik maintained at least two bank accounts in Poland that he used to receive payments for Internet drug purchases from undercover agents.
Former Michigan Liquor Store Owner Sentenced for Tax Fraud and Drug Charges
On Feb. 19, 2014, in Detroit, Mich., Bashar Saroki, of Southfield, Mich., was sentenced to 30 months in prison and one year of supervised release. Saroki pleaded guilty to filing a false 2009 tax return and offering drug paraphernalia for sale. According to court documents, Saroki controlled and operated Golden Star Party Store, a liquor store that was located in Detroit, Mich. From 2007 through 2011, Saroki sold more than $1 million worth of a variety of cutting agents to local narcotics dealers out of the liquor store and from his residence. Narcotics dealers used these cutting agents to dilute the potency and increase the quantity of the narcotics they sold to customers. Saroki also filed a false tax return for 2009 that reported very little income despite the significant proceeds from the sale of cutting agents.
California Man Sentenced for Participating in Drug and Money Laundering Conspiracies
On Feb. 7, 2014, in Pittsburgh, Pa., Damon L. Collins, of Antioch, Calif., was sentenced to 240 months in prison, eight years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit property including real estate in Brentwood, Calif. Collins previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. On March 28, 2012, Collins was indicted along with19 other defendants from three different states. According to court documents, Collins and others participated in a 10-year long conspiracy to distribute cocaine and launder monetary instruments.
Two Men Sentenced for Roles in Drug Trafficking Organization
On January 27, 2014, in Phoenix, Ariz., Jonathan Ortiz Troncoza was sentenced to 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release. David Ortiz Troncoza, Jr. was sentenced to 70 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Jonathan Troncoza pleaded guilty on August 6, 2012 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. David Troncoza pleaded guilty on July 30, 2012 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, beginning on or about March 29, 2005 and continuing through June 1, 2010, Jonathan Troncoza operated a marijuana and cocaine distribution organization. Jonathan and David Troncoza and others distributed large amounts of marijuana and cocaine and laundered the drug proceeds. Specifically, the drug organization receive marijuana and cocaine from sources in the Republic of Mexico. The defendants used stash houses and warehouses to store the drugs for further distribution. A portion of the proceeds were used to acquire additional quantities of drugs for sale, pay for the expenses of the stash houses, cars, couriers, communication equipment and other needs of the drug organization. In addition, business entities were used in furtherance of the conspiracy in order to conceal the identities of the defendants and the true nature of the drug trafficking organization.
Five Men Sentenced for Prescription Drug Trafficking
On January 24, 2014, in Sherman, Texas, Khuda Balouch Buksh, of Duncanville, Texas; Sikander Ali Teepu, of Wantagh, N.Y.; and Haroon Ahmad Tanooli, of Sugarland, Texas, were sentenced to 36 months, 18 months and 18 months in prison, respectively. On January 22, 2014, Mustajab Ali Raza, of Brighton, Minn., and Saaim Aslam, of Irvine, Calif., were both sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison. Buksh and Raza were ordered to be deported following the completion of their prison sentences. According to information presented in court, beginning in 2009, the defendants conspired to import and distribute controlled substances to others by way of a large on-line pharmaceutical operation. The defendants conspired to import and distribute drugs that were unlawfully imported from China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and elsewhere by use of the United States Postal Service and other foreign and domestic common carriers. The drugs consisted primarily of misbranded, adulterated, and counterfeit pills made to look like, and sold to customers as if they were, FDA-approved substances manufactured and approved for use within the United States.
Pill Mill Doctor Sentenced for Drug Conspiracy and Money Laundering
On January 7, 2014, in Miami Fla., Dr. Scott Becker, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., was sentenced to 70 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Becker previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute and dispense large amounts of oxycodone without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice and money laundering. Becker also agreed to forfeit $470,400 in money and property representing the illegal narcotics proceeds he earned as a result of his involvement as a physician at All Pain Management in Dania Beach. According to court documents, between February 16 and September 17, 2010, Becker was employed as a clinic doctor at All Pain Management which, at the time, was owned by co-conspirators Vincent Colangelo and several other individuals. Colangelo pleaded guilty to narcotics, money laundering and federal income tax offenses on April 2, 2012. According to a review of medical records, while at All Pain Management, Becker prescribed 932,259 oxycodone, 30 milligram pills during the course of 4,821 patient visits and more than 98% of Becker’s patients received prescriptions for oxycodone. Becker also laundered approximately $24,142 in illegal narcotics proceeds.
National Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Organization Based in Georgia Dismantled
On December 19, 2013, in Atlanta, Ga., Jiles Delwin Johnson, of Sandy Springs, Ga., was sentenced to 180 months in prison and five years of supervised release. On the same date, Johnson’s wife, Shannon Renee Johnson, was sentenced to 36 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Jiles Johnson previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and money laundering. Shannon Johnson previously pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy. According to court documents, the Johnsons participated in a large-scale drug trafficking and money laundering organization that distributed thousands of kilograms of cocaine nationwide and laundered millions of dollars in drug proceeds in Georgia. The organization coordinated its efforts through the KC Pit BBQ Restaurant in Sandy Springs, which had been owned by the Johnsons. Jiles Johnson was also a commercial truck driver. To supplement his income, he began transporting drugs from California to Philadelphia. As Johnson generated cash from cocaine sales, he purchased real estate. The Johnsons invested over three million dollars in real estate holdings. When the cash volume increased, Jacques Degaule, a financial planner, assisted with the laundering. Degaule traveled to banks in other states where he deposited over $7 million. No IRS Forms 8300 were filed, which are required when a trade or business receives cash over $10,000. The Johnsons used these laundered funds to underwrite their investments and their restaurant’s operations. On September 4, 2013, Degaule was sentenced to 36 months in prison and one year of supervised release.
Texan Sentenced for Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering
On December 19, 2013, in Houston, Texas, Huey Joseph Hebert III, formerly of Dickinson, Texas, was sentenced to 360 months in prison and five years of supervised release for his role in a drug trafficking organization. Hebert was also ordered to forfeit two Harris County properties and pay a $2,000 fine. Hebert pleaded guilty on May 9, 2013. At the time of the plea, Hebert admitted he conspired with 14 other individuals to distribute illegal drugs from Dickinson to Louisiana and elsewhere from mid-2008 until February 2012. According to court documents, Hebert purchased cashier checks to purchase real property using funds derived from unlawful activity.
Texas Drug Dealer Sentenced on Drug and Money Laundering Charges
On December 11, 2013, in Brownsville, Texas, Julio Cesar Cardenas received four life sentences in prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute illegal drugs and money laundering. He was also ordered to pay $1,700 in restitution. Cardenas was convicted by jury on May 31, 2013. According to the evidence and testimony presented in court, around January 2010 and continuing until about September 17, 2012, Cardenas led a drug trafficking organization. The organization distributed cocaine and marijuana through commercial freight lines to numerous states. After the marijuana and cocaine was sold in these states, Cardenas directed the illegal money remitting of the transportation costs and drug proceeds of the narcotics back to the Brownsville area by utilizing cash deposits in bank accounts in the names of other individuals and co-conspirators. Branch banks were utilized in the receiving states with the money to be withdrawn by the co-conspirators in Brownsville on a regular basis. Testimony at trial demonstrated that Cardenas engaged in numerous drug trafficking and illegal money remitting conversations in March, April and June 2011.
Wisconsin Man Sentenced for Role in Drug Trafficking Operation
On December 10, 2013, in Milwaukee, Wis., Randy Martinez, aka Robin Lee Martinez, of Sheboygan, was sentenced to 124 months in prison. Martinez pleaded guilty to his role in the Balderas Organization drug trafficking activities. According to court documents, beginning in the mid-1990's, the Balderas Drug Organization transported cocaine and marijuana from Texas to Wisconsin. Instrumental in the Balderas Organization’s ability to sell drugs in Wisconsin was Martinez’s role as leader of the organization in Wisconsin. The Balderas Organization was involved in conspiring to transport over 5 kilograms of cocaine and over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana to Wisconsin. Martinez shielded some of the members of the Balderas Organization from being linked to the organization; he controlled the Wisconsin distribution of narcotics and played an integral part in the money laundering of funds for the Balderas Organization. When a load was brought from Texas to Wisconsin, Martinez would cut up the narcotics and distribute it to customers for the Balderas Organization. In addition, Martinez was involved in recruiting individuals to receive packages mailed from Texas to Wisconsin and for the distribution. He was also in charge of deposits made into various bank accounts controlled by the Balderas Organization from Wisconsin to Texas. Martinez would direct individuals to send payment via wire transfer, bulk cash smuggling, and on their person to various individuals and accounts in Texas so as to help the Balderas Organization receive its profits. Bank records support that through a complex bank account scheme, the Balderas Organization was able to launder, at least $300,000 and up to $500,000.
Arizona Man Sentenced on Drug and Money Laundering Charges
On December 9, 2013, in Phoenix, Ariz., Oscar Fernando Ortiz, Jr., was sentenced to 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Ortiz pleaded guilty on September 20, 2013 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. According to court documents, between November 11, 2009 and July 5, 2011, Ortiz agreed to work with several other people in an organization that received relatively large quantities of marijuana, broke it down into smaller quantities that could be repackaged in postal boxes and shipped it to customers in cities in other parts of the United States. In addition, between November 11, 2009 and February 21, 2012, Ortiz used drug proceeds to purchase assets, such as cars, and have the registration placed in his name in order to conceal the nature, source, control and ownership of the drug proceeds.
Major New York Drug Trafficker Sentenced on Drug and Money Laundering Charges
On December 3, 2013, in Rochester, N.Y., Ronald Walker, of Corona, N.Y., was sentenced to 120 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute illegal narcotics and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Walker was also ordered to forfeit assets totaling $2,500,000, which represented the amount of proceeds from the drug trafficking conspiracy. According to court records, between 2005 and August 2012, Walker was in New York City and arranged for the distribution of cocaine and heroin through others to individuals who were transporting the drugs to Rochester. In addition, Walker laundered drug proceeds by placing at least $911,000 in cash in safe deposit boxes opened by other individuals to conceal the proceeds. In August 2012, authorities seized the cash from these safe deposit boxes, as well as approximately $615,000 in cash from two residences connected to the defendant. Walker agreed to forfeit all of that cash, as well as a 2012 Range Rover vehicle, jewelry and two properties, as proceeds of his illegal activities.
Texas Men Sentenced for Various Roles in Hydroponic Marijuana Growing Operation
On December 2, 2013, in Dallas, Texas, Louis Michael Olerio Jr., of Dallas, was sentenced to 24 months in prison. Olerio pleaded guilty in October 2012 to conspiracy to commit money laundering, stemming from his role in a hydroponic marijuana growing operation. Five other defendants have been sentenced in this investigation. Brian Edward Deloney was sentenced to 18 months in prison, Jeremy Cash McElroy was sentenced 36 months in prison, Eric Irving Love received 30 months in prison, Jeffrey Scott Gannon was sentenced to 27 months in prison, and Stephen Ray Willeford Jr. was sentenced to 24 months in prison. According to documents filed in the case, between 2004 and June 2010, McElroy, Olerio, Gannon and Love conspired to maintain 11 houses, in Dallas and Richardson, Texas, to cultivate and distribute highly potent hydroponic marijuana. Almost all of the marijuana grown at these houses by the defendants was ultimately delivered to Deloney for distribution. McElroy decided to distance himself from the day-to-day operations of the conspiracy and agreed to sell two of the marijuana grow houses to Olerio, while retaining a percentage of the proceeds in the sale of marijuana grown in those houses. To that end, McElroy transferred the deed for one of the houses to Olerio and sold another one of the grow houses to Olerio. Olerio agreed to continue the operation in these houses and pay McElroy 20 percent of the profits from the sale of the marijuana. McElroy and Olerio conducted financial transactions with the intent to conceal any ownership McElroy had in the profits from the marijuana sales.
Father, Two Sons Sentenced for Oxycodone and Money Laundering Conspiracies
On November 20, 2013, in Knoxville, Tenn., Jackie Mize and his two sons, Kelvin and James Mize, were sentenced for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and money laundering. Jackie and Kelvin each received 360 months, James received 300 months and all were ordered forfeiture of $3 million. According to court documents, Jackie Mize, his two sons and others made regular “doctor shopping” trips to Florida over an 18-month period to get prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances, had the prescriptions filled at pharmacies there, and used and sold the pills in and around Claiborne County, Tenn. Over 75,000 oxycodone tablets and more than 25,000 doses of Xanax were part of the scheme.
Pennsylvania Drug Dealer Sentenced
On November 5, 2013, in Philadelphia, Pa., Jaquel Crews was sentenced to 240 months in prison and ten years of supervised release. On March 14, 2012, Crews was convicted for drug conspiracy and ten counts of money laundering. According to court documents, Crews, along with others, participated in a conspiracy to distribute hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and hundreds of grams of cocaine base from 1986 to November 2007, in Philadelphia. The conspirators laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds by spending lavishly on personal items and through the purchase and refinance of numerous homes.
Member of Drug and Money Laundering Conspiracy Sentenced
On October 25, 2013, in Boston, Mass., Brant Welty, of South Boston, was sentenced to 100 months in prison and ordered to pay a criminal forfeiture money judgment of $85,500. In March 2013, Welty pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and money laundering conspiracy. According to court documents, Welty, along with 12 others, was first charged in 2011 for a conspiracy which spanned Massachusetts, Florida, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina and elsewhere. The conspirators trafficked hundreds of thousands of oxycodone pills and generated over $4 million in proceeds. The investigation has resulted in the seizure of over $480,000 in cash, a 38-foot speed boat, numerous luxury vehicles, 13 firearms and approximately 12,000 oxycodone pills. Investigators also uncovered extensive evidence of illegal gambling and prostitution, as well as the use of extortionate threats to collect loans to gamblers and others.
Former Hip-Hop Manager, Leader of Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced to Life in Prison
On October 25, 2013, in Brooklyn, N.Y., James Rosemond, aka Jimmy Henchman, was sentenced to mandatory life in prison and ordered to forfeit $10 million, along with property worth approximately $4 million. Rosemond was sentenced for leading a continuing criminal enterprise (the “Rosemond Organization”) that distributed thousands of pounds of cocaine, numerous narcotics conspiracy offenses, firearms possession, money laundering, structuring and obstruction of justice. In May 2012, following a three-week jury trial, Rosemond was convicted of all thirteen counts in his indictment. According to court documents, Rosemond was the leader of a large-scale, bi-coastal narcotics-trafficking organization that shipped cocaine from Los Angeles, Calif., to the New York City metropolitan area and that, in turn, shipped cash proceeds from narcotics sales back to Los Angeles. During the investigation, federal law enforcement agents made multiple seizures of drugs, money, firearms and tools of the narcotics distribution trade belonging to the Rosemond Organization. In total, between 2008 and 2010, law enforcement seized over $2.8 million of the Rosemond Organization’s drug proceeds.
Pennsylvania Man Sentenced in Drug Conspiracy Case
On October 22, 2013, in Wilmington, Del., Kevin Morris, of Franklin Township, Pa., was sentenced to 57 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $22,172 in drug proceeds. Morris pleaded guilty on July 25, 2012, to conspiracy to smuggle five kilograms of cocaine and one kilogram of heroin from the Republic of Panama into the United States and money laundering. According to facts introduced during the plea hearing, Morris acted as a recruiter, facilitator, and financier for an organization and was involved on multiple occasions in which couriers smuggled or attempted to smuggle heroin and cocaine from Panama to Delaware. He made cocaine and heroin sales to customers based primarily in Pennsylvania, including to confidential informants under the control of the Pennsylvania State Police. Morris further admitted his involvement in purchasing approximately one-half kilogram of cocaine in Washington, D.C., which had been smuggled into the United States through a military contractor based in Afghanistan. In connection with his plea agreement, Morris laundered his drug proceeds in part by purchasing two vehicles.
Texan Sentenced for Role in a Drug Trafficking Organization
On October 22, 2013, in Fort Worth, Texas, Carl Gayheart Schou was sentenced to 28 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Schou pleaded guilty in November 2012 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. According to court documents, from December 2009 until March 2012, Schou and other defendants were involved in the sale and shipment of marijuana from the Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) area to buyers located in St Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Schou and others would mail parcels of marijuana, each weighing approximately two – five kilograms, from multiple post offices in DFW to buyers in St. Croix. Fictitious return addresses were used on the drug parcels to avoid detection. In return for the drug parcels, the buyers would mail the defendants parcels containing proceeds of the sales of the trafficked marijuana, most commonly in the form of U.S. Postal money orders. At times, in order to disguise the source of the proceeds of the marijuana trafficking, they would use false information in the return addresses and would mail the proceeds to third parties. They would then deposit the money orders into their personal bank accounts, or cash them at their member bank, a check cashing facility or a U.S. Postal facility.
Arizona Man Sentenced on Drug and Money Laundering Charges
On October 21, 2013, in Phoenix, Ariz., Robert Gene White was sentenced to 72 months in prison and five years of supervised release. White was convicted in April 2013 on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and less than 500 grams of cocaine, conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of transactional money laundering. According to evidence presented at trial, a drug trafficking organization (DTO) received drugs from Mexico via “backpackers,” repackaged the marijuana into parcels, then shipped it through United Parcel Service (UPS). White, a UPS driver, knowingly received packages from the DTO and delivered them into the UPS mail-stream for delivery to customers in New York, Ohio and Virginia. In return, the DTO received parcels of money ranging from $20,000 to $30,000 from the buyers. To conceal who the money was being sent to, the DTO had buyers address returning money parcels to real addresses on White’s delivery route but with fictitious business names and suite numbers that did not exist. White then redirected them to the DTO. White shipped 200 to 300 pounds of marijuana each week for over a year, receiving as much as $50 for each pound of marijuana that went through his truck.
Florida Man Who Illegally Mailed Oxycodone Pills Sentenced to Prison
On October 17, 2013, in Beckley, W.Va., Ryan D. Moore, of Hillsborough County, Fla., was sentenced to 168 months in prison. Moore pleaded guilty in May 2013 to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and conspiracy to commit money laundering. From at least October 15, 2010 until April 27, 2012, Moore mailed packages containing approximately 17,000 30-milligram oxycodone tablets to individuals located in West Virginia. Moore received at least $330,000 in cash as payment for the packages that contained oxycodone tablets. The cash was deposited into Moore’s bank accounts during the scheme. Moore knew that the cash payments deposited into his bank account were proceeds collected from illegal pill transactions. Moore mailed packages containing oxycodone pills to two Wyoming County residents, Christopher and Jennifer Brooks, from at least March 2010 until April 27, 2012. Christopher and Jennifer Brooks both of Glen Fork, W.Va., previously pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and money laundering charges. In August 2013, Christopher Brooks was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Jennifer Brooks was sentenced to seven years in prison for her role in the scheme. Moore also mailed packages containing oxycodone to Keith Keiffer. Keiffer, of Calvin, Nicholas County, W.Va., received at least 15 express mail packages that contained a total of approximately 1,400 30-milligram oxycodone tablets from Moore. Keiffer, in exchange for the oxycodone tablets, deposited thousands of dollars’ cash into Moore’s bank accounts. Keiffer was sentenced to four years in prison in July 2013.
New York Man Sentenced for Conspiracy to Import and Distribute Synthetic Drug
On October 11, 2013, in Syracuse, N.Y., Rosario Gambuzza, of East Syracuse, N.Y., was sentenced to 188 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In May 2013, Gambuzza was convicted after a jury trial on charges of a drug conspiracy and money laundering. According to court documents, between January 2010 and April 2011, Gambuzza conspired to import and distribute a controlled substance analogue, known on the street as “Molly” in Syracuse, N.Y. Gambuzza was also convicted of 19 counts of money laundering relating to $73,000 he wired to a co-conspirator in Shanghai, China, in order to purchase the drug.