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.
California Man Sentenced for Trafficking Oxycodone and Hydrocodone
On Sept. 28, 2015, in Fresno, California, Sarith Chim, of Long Beach, was sentenced to 76 months in prison for conspiring to distribute oxycodone and hydrocodone pills. According to court documents, in April 11, 2013, Chim and his co-defendants were indicted for a scheme where they obtained prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone from a doctor in Visalia, filled those prescriptions at pharmacies in Modesto, and then transported and mailed the pills to others involved in the conspiracy in Washington state for distribution on the black market. After illegally selling the pills, the defendants deposited the cash proceeds of the sales into bank accounts held by Chim and co-defendants in California from which the funds were then withdrawn by Chim. Deposits and withdrawals were made in amounts of $10,000 or less to prevent Currency Transactions Reports from being filed by the banks. To date ten co-defendants have been sentenced in this case with sentences ranging from three years’ probation to 10 years in prison. In addition, Terrell Brown, the doctor responsible for writing the prescriptions to the defendants was sentenced to 57 months in prison for illegally distributing oxycodone and structuring financial transactions.
Long-Time Drug Trafficker and Money Launderer Sentenced For Supplying Drugs to Alaska and Missouri
On Sept. 14, 2015, in Anchorage, Alaska, Steven Nicholas Taylor was sentenced to 180 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Taylor also agreed to forfeit and abandon any interest in his Seattle home. Taylor previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, primarily cocaine, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. In a separate but related case arising in the Eastern District of Missouri, Taylor was sentenced on his plea of guilty to drug trafficking conspiracy. According to court documents, Taylor and his accomplices were major sources of supply for cocaine in Alaska going back 20 years. In the late 1990’s, Taylor was convicted of drug conspiracy, money laundering, and interstate travel in aid of racketeering, and served 121 months in federal prison. In 2009, shortly after court-ordered supervision was terminated in the Seattle case, Taylor resumed drug trafficking operations with several of the same accomplices, and supplied cocaine and other drugs to Alaska and Missouri. In the Alaska case, Taylor directed the activities of Timothy Northcutt, Joseph Irving, Etienne Devoe, Leonard Charles, Joshua Haynes, and others. In total, Taylor admitted to supplying between 15 and 50 kilograms of cocaine to Alaska, as well as an additional 5 to 15 kilograms to Missouri. Taylor also directed and instructed his co-conspirators on money laundering for the continuation of Taylor’s drug conspiracy operation, from which Taylor was the primary beneficiary. Devoe, Northcutt, Leonard, and Charles participated in the money laundering activities, including exchanging text messages with Taylor on how to launder the money, and what bank accounts to use. Taylor’s co-defendants in the case received the following sentences: James Brown, Sr., 56 months, Leonard D. Charles, 60 months; Etienne Q. Devoe, 126 months; Shawn Cortez Cloyd, 36 months; Timothy W. Northcutt, 72 months; Joshua J. Haynes, 30 months; Gabrielle P. Haynes, 18 months; Joseph E. Irving, 21 months.
Missouri Men Sentenced for $1.2 Million K2 Distribution
On Sept. 8, 2015, in Springfield, Missouri, Eric Scott Reynolds, of Lebanon, was sentenced to 72 months in prison. On Oct. 15, 2015, Reynolds pleaded guilty to his role in a mail fraud conspiracy and a money laundering conspiracy that involved the distribution of more than $1.2 million of synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as K2, from a head shop in Lebanon, Missouri. According to court documents, Reynolds was employed at Lucky’s Novelties and distributed synthetic drugs from the head shop. His brother and co-defendant, Stephen Brian Reynolds, of Camdenton, was the owner of Lucky’s Novelties. Stephen Reynolds was sentenced on June 29, 2015, to 72 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $1,167,990, as well as real estate, funds in bank accounts, approximately $128,000 that was seized from his residence, a car, motorcycle, and several guns. Both men participated in the conspiracy to commit mail fraud from March 1, 2011, to Dec. 11, 2012. The men distributed several products that were labeled as “incense” or “potpourri” and “not for human consumption,” when in reality these substances were synthetic marijuana intended for human consumption as a drug. In addition, between Sept. 15, 2011, and July 25, 2012, Stephen and Eric Reynolds deposited $1,245,761 in proceeds from the distribution of K2 into bank accounts and a safety deposit box.
Pill Mill Operator and Two Others Sentenced for Conspiracy to Dispense Controlled Substances
On Aug. 27, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Barbara Lang, aka "Aunt Bea,” of Rossville, Georgia, was sentenced to 280 years in prison. Lang was convicted of two counts of conspiring to distribute and dispense Schedule II and IV controlled substances, outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose; five counts of maintaining a premises for the purpose of distributing controlled substances; and 14 counts of structuring financial transactions to evade reporting requirements. Lang's daughter, Faith Blake, pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally distribute drugs through pain clinics she operated, obstructing the IRS and failing to appear for a federal court proceeding. Sentencing for Blake is set for later this year. Dr. Jerome Sherard, a medical director, pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally distribute drugs and was sentenced to 60 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $192,956. Charles Larmore, a nurse practitioner, pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally distribute drugs and was sentenced to 156 months in prison, fined $20,000 and ordered to forfeit $375,829.
Former Ringleader of Albuquerque-Based Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced
On July 28, 2015, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Christopher Roybal, the former leader of an Albuquerque-based drug trafficking organization, was sentenced to 168 months in prison, five years of supervised release and required to pay a $184,080 money judgment. On Feb. 25, 2015, Roybal pleaded guilty to five counts of a second superseding indictment, charging him with participating in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy, three money laundering conspiracies, and a substantive money laundering offense. In entering his guilty plea, Christopher Roybal admitted that between Aug. 2011 and Dec. 2012, he conspired with others to distribute kilogram quantities of cocaine in Albuquerque and Las Vegas, N.M. He also admitted participating in three conspiracies that laundered the proceeds of his drug trafficking organization. One conspiracy involved the transportation of drug proceeds from Albuquerque to California to pay for marijuana that was distributed by Christopher Roybal’s organization. The second and third conspiracies involved the laundering of Christopher Roybal’s drug proceeds through accounts at a bank and a credit union. As part of his plea agreement, Roybal agreed to forfeit his Albuquerque residence and a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro. The charges filed in the case were the result of a 16-month multi-agency investigation into a drug trafficking organization headed by Roybal. Roybal was one of the 19 defendants charged in Dec. 2012, with drug trafficking and money laundering charges in a 60-count indictment. The indictment was superseded twice; first in Feb. 2014, to add a 20th defendant and a witness tampering charge, and again in Sept. 2014, to add another witness tampering charge and a heroin trafficking charge.
Three Sentenced for Distributing Marijuana and Money Laundering
On July 28, 2015, in Springfield, Missouri, Sean Bond, of Republic, Missouri, was sentenced to 144 months prison. On Oct. 16, 2014, Bond pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana in Greene County, Mo., and elsewhere from April 1, 2010, to June 19, 2013. Also sentenced was Brian D. Hanson to12 months and one day in prison and Brenda Swearingin to five years of probation. According to court documents, Bond arranged for Hanson and others to pick up marijuana outside of Springfield and transported back to Springfield for Bond to distribute to other persons. Bond and Hanson also traveled together to Texas to obtain marijuana that had been smuggled into the United States from Mexico. In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, Bond and Hanson each pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to launder the proceeds of marijuana sales. For example, Hanson gave Bond a 2002 BMW 745i and a 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle to pay a drug debt. Hanson purchased a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria at an auto auction, using proceeds from the sale of marijuana. Hanson then used this vehicle to transport marijuana. Bond also used drug proceeds to purchase personal items that have been seized by law enforcement officers and is subject to be forfeited to the government.
Two Missouri Men Sentenced for Cocaine Conspiracy
On July 28, 2015, in Jefferson City, Missouri, Levi McLean Franklin Coolley and Jonathan Richard Gray, both of Columbia, were sentenced to 120 months in prison. The court also ordered Coolley to forfeit to the government $54,399, which constitutes the profits of illegal drug trafficking and which was seized from investment accounts. Coolley and Gray both pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Coolley also pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana and a conspiracy to commit money laundering by utilizing his business. According to court documents, Coolley’s role in the drug-trafficking conspiracies included supervising the distribution efforts of several people in Columbia. He sometimes weighed out and assisted in packaging cocaine and/or marijuana, distributed cocaine and/or marijuana and collected money from the sale of the cocaine and/or marijuana. In order to conceal the money generated by his unlawful conduct, Coolley established a business, Midwest Audio Visions, to launder the proceeds of his drug distribution. Coolley invested some of the profits from the sale of controlled substances into his business in order to mask and conceal the funds, and to give the illusion that the money was from a legitimate source rather than drug-trafficking. Mixing drug-trafficking proceeds with legitimate funds allowed Coolley to inflate his business’s success, and allowed him to withdraw money and invest it in real estate and investment accounts. Gray’s role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy included ordering cocaine from larger distributors so he could redistribute the cocaine to others, weighing out cocaine and cutting it, packaging it, distributing it to others and collecting money from the sale of the cocaine. Coolley and Gray are among 18 defendants who have pleaded guilty in this case.
Drug Trafficker Sentenced for Drug Distribution and Money Laundering Conspiracies
On July 23, 2015, in Greenbelt, Maryland, Anthony Torrell Tatum, of Arlington, Virginia, was sentenced to 324 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin, possession of a gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and money laundering conspiracy. Tatum was ordered to pay a $108 million money judgment, as well as a forfeiture order for personal property seized during the investigation, including $328,700 in assorted jewelry, over $1 million in cash or deposited in bank accounts and a luxury vehicle. According to court documents, from at least January 2011 through his arrest on Sept. 6, 2013, Tatum conspired with Ishmael Ford-Bey and others to distribute cocaine and heroin. In May 2013, Tatum rented a storage unit in Maryland using an alias. Between August 2013 and October 2013, search warrants were executed at several locations and uncovered large quantities of cocaine, heroin, drug paraphernalia, weapons, cash, jewelry and heat sealers. Latent fingerprints recovered from the heat sealers were identified as belonging to Tatum and Ford-Bey. At one location, law enforcement discovered a fake driver’s license bearing Tatum’s picture. Tatum was present at the location and arrested. In an effort to disguise and hide their drug proceeds, Tatum and others created numerous business entities, including 1001 Solutions, Beauty International Supply, Inc. and Going Green Towing, which had little, if any, legitimate business. They set up bank accounts in the names of each business and deposited their drug proceeds into those business accounts. Tatum used the drug proceeds to purchases several vehicles and expensive jewelry.
North Carolina Man Sentenced For Narcotics Distribution and Money Laundering
On July 15, 2015, in Wilmington, North Carolina, James Rodrequias Pressley, of Dunn, North Carolina, was sentenced to life in prison and five years of supervised release. Pressley was convicted by a federal jury on July 30, 2014 for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (Crack) and five kilograms or more of cocaine and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, from at least 1999 to 2012, Pressley was a drug trafficker responsible for possessing and distributing crack cocaine and cocaine. Between Dec. 12, 2011, and Feb. 1, 2012, investigative agents used a confidential informant to conduct several controlled purchases of crack cocaine from Pressley. The IRS determined that Pressley had no verifiable employment history during the time of the offense; however, between June 12, 2009, and Aug. 17, 2010, Pressley purchased several properties for a total of $10,500. Pressley subsequently made additions and/or renovations to the properties valued at $12,000. Pressley used these properties to sell and store cocaine and crack cocaine, and store proceeds from his drug-trafficking activities. During the drug conspiracy, Pressley ostensibly operated a legitimate music business, Blackbird Entertainment (BE), as well as a landscaping business in Dunn. Pressley used drug proceeds to pay for concerts and production costs in an attempt to promote BE. He also used $7,860 in drug proceeds to purchase equipment for his landscaping business. In order to conceal the source of illegal proceeds, between Jan. 5, 2009, and Nov. 22, 2011, Pressley made deposits totaling $29,805 to the bank account of his girlfriend, deposits totaling $20,060, to his landscaping account, and deposits totaling $15,000 to his bank account. Investigators also determined that between Sept. 5, 2009, and Feb. 28, 2011, Pressley used $26,912 in drug proceeds to purchase at least three vehicles.
Pennsylvania Man Sentenced for Violating Federal Drug, Gun and Money Laundering Laws
On July 7, 2015, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Omali P. McKay, a citizen of Trinidad who formerly resided in Lower Burrell and in Arnold, was sentenced to 180 months in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit vehicles, a residence and $272,000 in cash. McKay was previously convicted of violating federal narcotics, firearms and money laundering laws. According to court documents, McKay conspired with others from 2006 to Aug. 25, 2012, to distribute five to 15 kilograms of cocaine and 280 to 840 grams of crack cocaine. Also, McKay admitted possessing with intent to distribute one kilogram of cocaine seized from his Lower Burrell residence on Aug. 25, 2012, while simultaneously possessing an assault rifle in furtherance of the drug crime. Finally, McKay admitted to conspiring with three others to launder his drug trafficking proceeds. He used those laundered funds to purchase the Lower Burrell residence for $243,000 in cash in August 2011.
New York Man Sentenced for Cross-Country Drug Distribution Conspiracy
On July 2, 2015, in Newark, New Jersey, Robert Crawford, of Long Island City, New York, was sentenced to 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release for his role in a scheme to transport more than 20 kilograms of cocaine from California to New Jersey. Crawford previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. According to court documents, from January 2011 through March 2014, Crawford, Melvin Feliz, of Englewood Cliffs, and Irving Olivero-Pena, of Edgewater, conspired to purchase narcotics for distribution in New Jersey. On Oct. 22, 2012, they met a courier in Bergen County and gave the courier $549,950 in currency to transport to California via tractor trailer, where it would be used to purchase approximately 20 kilograms of cocaine. Afterwards, the courier would transport the cocaine to New Jersey for distribution. The currency was ultimately seized by law enforcement officers in California. Feliz and Olivero-Pena also pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme and await sentencing.
Head of the Gulf Cartel Sentenced for Drug Trafficking, Money Laundering
On June 30, 2015, in Beaumont, Texas, Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez, of Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, was sentenced to 360 months in prison and ordered to pay a money judgment of $100 million. Saenz-Tamez pleaded guilty on Jan. 13, 2015 to distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to information presented in court, a federal investigation into the large-scale trafficking of illegal drugs from Mexico into the Eastern District of Texas revealed that Saenz-Tamez was responsible for the shipment of one-half ton of cocaine and 90 tons of marijuana into the Eastern District of Texas and then to locations across the nation, including Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland and Georgia. As a result of this scheme, $100 million was laundered by Saenz-Tamez and his drug trafficking organization.
Missouri Man Sentenced for K2 Distribution and Money Laundering
On June 29, 2015, in Springfield, Missouri, Stephen Brian Reynolds, owner of Lucky’s Novelties in Lebanon, was sentenced to 72 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $1,167,990, as well as real estate, funds in bank accounts, and other assets and cash seized. Reynolds pleaded guilty on Aug. 15, 2014, to participating in a conspiracy to commit mail fraud and to one count of money laundering. His brother, Eric Scott Reynolds, was employed at Lucky’s Novelties and also pleaded guilty to the mail fraud conspiracy and to participating in a money-laundering conspiracy. According to court documents, from March 1, 2011 to Dec. 11, 2012, the Reynolds defrauded the FDA and the public by using mail deliveries in a conspiracy to distribute several products that were labeled as “incense” or “potpourri” and “not for human consumption,” when in reality these substances were synthetic marijuana intended for human consumption as a drug. Stephen Reynolds was also part-owner of a Springfield, Missouri, head shop known as Doobies, which he supplied with wholesale quantities of synthetic marijuana for distribution and from which he received 40 percent of the profits. Between Sept. 15, 2011, and July 25, 2012, Stephen and Eric Reynolds deposited $1,245,761 in proceeds from the distribution of K2 into bank accounts and a safety deposit box.
Second Brother Sentenced for Oxycodone Trafficking Scheme
On June 12, 2015, in Boston, Massachusetts, Stanley D. Gonsalves, of Sandwich, was sentenced to 300 months in prison, six years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $3,552,203 and property. In October 2014, Stanley Gonsalves was convicted of oxycodone conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, 17 counts of money laundering, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy. According to court documents, the charges stemmed from a three-year conspiracy involving hundreds of thousands of 30-milligram oxycodone pills, which Gonsalves and his brother and co-defendant, Joshua M. Gonsalves, distributed on Cape Cod, generating over $5 million in proceeds. Couriers working for the Gonsalves brothers transported multi-thousand-pill loads of 30-milligram oxycodone pills from South Florida to New England by plane and by car. The Gonsalves would then split the pills into 100-pill packs for sale to Cape Cod dealers. Joshua Gonsalves was also convicted at trial of oxycodone trafficking conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and a money laundering charge. In January 2015, Joshua Gonsalves was sentenced to 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $1,522,372.
Pennsylvania Man Sentenced for Violating Narcotics and Money Laundering Laws
On June 11, 2015, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Robert Russell Spence, aka “Little Russ” and “Slick,” was sentenced to 240 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Spence was previously convicted of violating federal narcotics and money laundering laws. According to court documents, Spence was the main recipient of more than 1500 kilograms of cocaine that was shipped by the US mail or various common carriers from California to Pittsburgh through a major drug distribution conspiracy. Spence rented a warehouse in a Pittsburgh suburb under a false name where he kept a significant stash of drug-processing items. Spence conspired to launder his drug money in multiple ways including obtaining vehicles, prepaid credit cards, hotel reservations, houses, flights, drug processing materials and businesses in the names of other people. The staggering amounts of money involved were proven by financial documents obtained by federal agents and acknowledged by cooperating witnesses. One witness, for example, testified to being sent to count one million dollars in drug cash for Spence and a separate witness testified to possessing $750,000 in drug cash for Spence on another date.
Ohio Man Sentenced for Role in Large Marijuana Distribution Ring
On June 10, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio, Kevin Whitely, of Columbus, was sentenced to 84 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $65,255. On Oct. 28, 2014, Whitley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and money laundering. According to court documents, from December 2009, through September 2013, Whitely was involved with a large scale narcotics organization responsible for importing and distributing multiple kilograms of marijuana throughout central Ohio. The organization utilized various Ohio residences, business fronts, commercial freight, semi tractor-trailers and vehicles to store and transport narcotics and currency. Specifically, Whitely and others received approximately 2,400 kilograms of marijuana that was transported from suppliers in Houston, Texas, to various fraudulent businesses in Columbus, Ohio. During the course of the drug conspiracy, Whitely earned substantial income from the sale of narcotics. Whitely used his drug proceeds to purchase assets and fund bank accounts through the use of nominees. Specifically, in March 2012, Whitley used a nominee to purchase a 2012 Infiniti G37 for approximately $44,000. Whitely also used a credit card obtained in a nominee name as his personal credit card. Some of the transactions made by Whitely with this credit card included renting vehicles used to facilitate his drug trafficking activities.
Drug Trafficker Sentenced for Cocaine and Money Laundering Conspiracy
On June 10, 2015, in New Bern, North Carolina, Fabio Hirochi Inoue, of Anaheim, California, was sentenced to 51 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Inoue pleaded guilty on May 13, 2014, to conspiracy to distribute and possess five kilograms or more of cocaine and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. According to court documents, between April 2013 and Sept. 22, 2013, Inoue flew to North Carolina and Florida to deliver cocaine and collect drug proceeds for a drug trafficking organization operating out of Mexico and California. Inoue made several trips during this time period to meet with traffickers in the Johnston County, North Carolina area. During these trips he delivered multiple kilograms of cocaine and collected approximately $185,745 in drug proceeds. Inoue laundered some of the drug proceeds by depositing portions into a bank account in the name of a real estate business located in California.
Tennessee Doctor Sentenced for Tax Evasion and Illegally Dispensing Controlled Substances
On June 1, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Ihsaan Al-Amin, of Smyrna, Georgia, was sentenced to 100 months in prison and two years of supervised release. In November 2013, Al-Amin, a doctor, pleaded guilty to one count of illegally dispensing controlled substances and two counts of tax evasion. According to court documents, Al-Amin operated the O’Neil Pain Clinic in Chattanooga until 2010. Al-Amin illegally prescribed thousands of pills containing opiates and, during 2005 and 2006, significantly under-reported his taxable income on his tax returns.
Creator and Operator of the “Silk Road" Website Sentenced
On May 29, 2015, in Manhattan, New York, Ross Ulbricht, aka “Dread Pirate Roberts,” of San Francisco, California, was sentenced to life in prison and ordered to forfeit $183,961,921. On Feb. 5, 2015, Ulbricht was found guilty of distributing narcotics, distributing narcotics by means of the Internet, conspiring to distribute narcotics, engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiring to commit computer hacking, conspiring to traffic in false identity documents, and conspiring to commit money laundering. According to court documents, Ulbricht created Silk Road in January 2011, and owned and operated the underground website until it was shut down by law enforcement authorities in October 2013. Silk Road served as a sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet where unlawful goods and services, including illegal drugs of virtually all varieties, were bought and sold regularly by the site’s users. While in operation, Silk Road was used by thousands of drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other unlawful goods and services to more than 100,000 buyers, and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars deriving from these unlawful transactions. Ulbricht sought to anonymize transactions on Silk Road by operating Silk Road on a special network of computers on the Internet, distributed around the world, designed to conceal the true IP addresses of the computers on the network and thereby the identities of the networks’ users. Ulbricht also designed Silk Road to include a Bitcoin-based payment system that concealed the identities and locations of the users transmitting and receiving funds through the site.
California Drug Trafficker Sentenced for Distributing Meth in New England
On May 29, 2015, in Boston, Massachusetts, Adolfo Castilleja, formerly of Pomona, California, was sentenced to 216 months in prison, five years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. In March 2015, Castilleja pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, conspiring to launder money, and three counts of money laundering. According to court documents, from January 2010 through January 2012, Castilleja, who was based in California, supplied methamphetamine to a co-defendant based in Stoneham, Mass. Specifically, Castilleja obtained methamphetamine from a California-based supplier and worked with his son to package and ship the narcotics in overnight packages to addresses on the East Coast. Five packages containing more than 1.3 kilograms of nearly 100% pure methamphetamine that were shipped by Castilleja from California to the East Coast were seized by law enforcement officials. Overall, Castilleja and his organization were involved in the shipment of more than 100 packages from addresses near Pomona, California, to locations on the East Coast affiliated with coconspirators. In addition, Castilleja provided instructions for structured cash deposits of more than $900,000 in drug proceeds into California-based bank accounts that he controlled.
Owner of Pain Clinics Sentenced for Conspiracy to Distribute Prescription Drugs
On May 28, 2015, in London, Kentucky, Joel Shumrak, was sentenced to 168 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $7 million for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and alprazolam and laundering money. According to court documents, Shumrak was the owner of two pain clinics located in Tucker, Georgia, and Broward, Florida. Beginning around June 2008, and continuing until June 2014, thousands of Kentuckians travelled to Shumrak’s pain clinics almost daily to unlawfully obtain prescription pills without a legitimate medical need. Shumrak’s clinics catered to out-of-state patients and these individuals received little to no physical examinations or other medical treatment before obtaining the drugs. Shumrak was aware that many of these Kentucky patients distributed the drugs upon their return to Kentucky.
California Woman Sentenced in Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Case
On May 18, 2015, in Pocatello, Idaho, Reynalda Estrada-Gutierrez, of Bakersfield, California, was sentenced to 192 months in prison, five years of supervised release, ordered to forfeit $92,880 in cash proceeds and her residence which was acquired with drug proceeds, as well as turn over a firearm she possessed in connection with her crimes. Estrada-Gutierrez is also subject to deportation to Mexico once she has completed her prison term. According to court records, Estrada-Gutierrez distributed just over 900 grams of methamphetamine in the Burley, Idaho, area between April and November 2013. During the same time period, she arranged to be paid for the methamphetamine through cash deposits and wire transfers into various bank accounts. Three co-defendants have been sentenced for their roles in the drug trafficking and money laundering activities. Angelina Nava was sentenced on Jan. 15, 2015, to 28 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Porfirio Gutierrez was sentenced on March 10, 2015, to 90 months in prison and four years of supervised release. Raquel Rios was sentenced on Nov. 18, 2014, to 27 months in prison.
Washington Man Sentenced in Drug and Money Laundering Conspiracy
On May 15, 2015, in Fairbanks, Alaska, Peter M. Thornton was sentenced to 104 months’ in prison, five years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $24,300 representing property involved in the drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies. According to court documents, as early as 2008, Thornton was distributing heroin in Fairbanks to make money and support his own habit. By 2011, Thornton, operating from his residence in Bellingham, WA, conducted the conspiracy to transport and distribute heroin by means of couriers from Washington State to Fairbanks for distribution. Couriers would either fly the drugs carried on their person to Alaska, or Thornton would send drugs through the mail. Thornton purchased airline tickets for some of the conspirators to transport heroin to Alaska. Once in Alaska, the heroin would be redistributed by the co-conspirators. Thornton instructed couriers and/or redistributors in Alaska to deposit the proceeds of the heroin sales into bank accounts controlled by him at various bank branches in Alaska. From September 2010 through December 2013, approximately $300,000 in cash was deposited into accounts controlled by Thornton.
Texas Man Sentenced for Distributing Drugs and Money Laundering
On May 14, 2015, in El Paso, Texas, Juan Manuel Flores, the leader of an El Paso-based cocaine trafficking and money laundering organization, was sentenced to 180 months in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit five real properties in El Paso County, Texas, which were proceeds of the drug conspiracy. On Feb. 3, 2015, Flores pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver cocaine and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. According to court records, between 2005 and July 2013, Flores conspired to distribute over 700 kilograms of cocaine in the El Paso area and conspired to launder more than $7.9 Million in drug proceeds.
Arizona Cocaine Trafficker Sentenced on Drug and Money Laundering Charges
On May 11, 2015, in Phoenix, Arizona, Terance Taylor Prigge, was sentenced to 318 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release. Prigge was convicted by a federal jury on Feb. 12, 2015, of five felony charges that included conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to commit money laundering, international money laundering, promotional money laundering, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The trial evidence showed that Prigge’s drug trafficking organization transported at least 122 kilograms of cocaine from Latin America, into the American southwest, and then to Chicago from at least early 2010 to September 2013. The organization used private charter flights to transport the drugs from Phoenix and Southern California to Chicago. In September 2013, Prigge was arrested after he exited one of those flights with a co-conspirator in DeKalb, Ill. with 22 kilograms of cocaine in their luggage. Prigge had extensive contacts with sources of drug supply in at least two Latin American countries. He was convicted of international money laundering for organizing the transfer of $100,000 to an individual in Guatemala in support of a drug deal. He was also convicted of taking other steps to launder money in support of his drug trafficking. Prigge was convicted previously for trafficking cocaine from Panama into the United States and served seven years in prison.
Leader of Large Scale Marijuana Trafficking Organization Sentenced
On April 28, 2015, in Phoenix, Arizona, Luis Armando Cruz-Galvan was sentenced to 121 months in prison and 5 years of supervised release. Cruz-Galvan pleaded guilty on Feb. 12, 2015 to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. According to court documents, since Oct. 12, 2012, Cruz-Galvan was identified as the Phoenix-based transportation cell working for the Sinaloa Cartel responsible for coordinating importation of multi-thousand pounds of marijuana from Mexico (primarily through the Agua Prieta corridor) into New Mexico and Arizona and the smuggling of bulk drug proceeds back into Mexico. The Cruz-Galvan drug trafficking organization used multiple load drivers and backpackers to facilitate drug transportation operations in the remote desert area near San Simon and Willcox, Arizona for further delivery to Tucson and Phoenix. Since December 2012, multiple drug seizures totaling over 27,000 pounds of marijuana have been linked to the Cruz-Galvan drug trafficking organization.
California Man Sentenced on Narcotics and Money Laundering Charges
On April 24, 2015, in San Diego, California, Benjamin Farias Hodges was sentenced to 110 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Hodges pleaded guilty on Feb. 13, 2015 to one count of knowingly and intentionally conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and one count of knowingly and intentionally conspiring to launder monetary instruments. According to the plea agreement, around September 2011 up to on or about March 7, 2012, Hodges and others obtained more than 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine which was delivered or mailed to others for further distribution. From on or about November 2011 to March 2012, Hodges and others made financial transactions by wire and other means with the proceeds from the sale of the drugs in order to continue the drug trafficking activity. Hodges also had money transferred to another person in an effort to conceal his identity as the recipient of the funds in order to promote illegal activity.
Georgia Man Sentenced for Narcotics-Related Money Laundering
On April 15, 2015, in Atlanta, Georgia, Mark Tomlinson was sentenced to 192 months in prison and five years of supervised release for his role in a drug trafficking organization. Tomlinson was convicted by jury trial in October 2014, of conspiring to traffic methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA); benzylpiperazine (BZP), a drug similar to ecstasy; and marijuana. According to court documents, beginning in February 2010, law enforcement officers started investigating a major drug trafficking organization operating in the Atlanta-metropolitan area and in other areas across the country that was led by Mark Tomlinson and other co-conspirators. Tomlinson distributed thousands of pills of MDMA and BZP while simultaneously running a nightclub in DeKalb County. In addition, in April 2010, Tomlinson brokered a major marijuana deal, which resulted in the seizure of over $100,000. After law enforcement seized the drug money, Tomlinson and others devised a scheme to make it appear that the money was actually to pay musicians for his nightclub. On Dec. 15, 2010, law enforcement officers searched Tomlinson’s home, where they recovered weapons and a drug ledger.
Connecticut Man Sentenced for Trafficking Marijuana, Laundering Drug Proceeds
On April 10, 2015, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Sompatana Chanminaraj, aka “Johnny,” of East Hartford, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release. On Jan. 16, 2015, Chanminaraj pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, and one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana. According to court documents, since at least 2009, associates of Chanminaraj were purchasing large quantities of marijuana from sources in Oregon and California and, by the end of 2010, members of the drug trafficking organization were growing marijuana at multiple properties they owned or rented in the area of Fresno, California. The organization routinely shipped east, primarily to Connecticut, parcels containing multiple kilograms of marijuana. At times in 2010 and 2011, Chanminaraj resided in California where he assisted in the purchasing, manufacturing, packaging and shipping of marijuana. Chanminaraj regularly returned to Connecticut where he received shipments of marijuana at his residence. While in Connecticut, Chanminaraj made at least four wire transfers of $9,000 each to associates in California and Oregon, and made at least 14 cash deposits totaling $320,540 into a bank account used by the organization. He also flew to California and Oregon with marijuana proceeds, and used marijuana proceeds to purchase and redeem gaming chips at casinos in Connecticut.
Florida Resident Sentenced for Narcotics Distribution and Money Laundering
On March 25, 2015, in Ocala, Florida, James Bryan Swoll, of Ocala, was sentenced to 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release. In addition, Swoll will forfeit his residence and a vehicle. Swoll pleaded guilty on Nov. 25, 2014 to charges of narcotics distribution and money laundering. According to court documents and evidence presented at the sentencing hearing, Swoll had a long-time source for large quantities of cocaine in South Texas and Matamoros, Mexico. For more than seven years, he obtained cocaine from Rolando Pinon and then redistributed the multi-kilogram amounts to other large-scale drug traffickers in the Ocala area. Pinon employed a series of drivers, including Jose Manuel Tovar, to drive the cocaine from south Texas to Ocala. Swoll received profits of approximately $5,000 per kilogram of cocaine sold. Swoll also distributed six kilograms of cocaine, via a broker, to another large-scale cocaine dealer in the Ocala area and received $211,500 in cash. Swoll laundered his drug proceeds to purchase a home in the Ocala area. The closing documents revealed that one of Swoll’s associates appeared at the closing and titled the home in his name. Swoll provided the cash for the closing. Pinon pleaded guilty for his role in this case and was sentenced to 222 months in prison. He was also ordered to forfeit more than $1.2 million in cash and property. Tovar also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 72 months in prison.
Texas Marijuana Traffickers Sentenced for Drug Conspiracy and Money Laundering
On March 23, 2015, in McAllen, Texas, Alberto Alaniz and Jose Ramon Romo, both of McAllen, were sentenced to 262 months in prison and 120 months in prison, respectively. In addition, Alaniz will serve 10 years of supervised release, while Romo will serve five years of supervised release. On May 29, 2014, both men pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess, with the intent to distribute, marijuana and conspiring to launder the drug proceeds. According to court documents, an investigation revealed that from 2008 through 2013, Alaniz and Romo conspired to transport large amounts of marijuana from the Rio Grande Valley to various destinations via tractor-trailers. During the investigation, law enforcement seized several loads of marijuana, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in currency from both defendants.
Maine Man Sentenced for Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering
On March 18, 2015, in Portland, Maine, David Jones, of Portland, was sentenced to 110 months in prison and three years of supervised release for distributing marijuana and money laundering. According to court documents, from August 2011 through October 2013, Jones obtained hundreds of pounds of marijuana from an out-of-state source and distributed it in Maine. In October 2013, agents seized $291,981 from a storage unit Jones rented, $92,104 from an associate’s apartment and $6,278 from Jones’ residence. Agents also seized two boats, a truck, several motorcycles, two trailers, numerous pieces of electronic recording equipment and jewelry. All the seized cash and items were forfeited. Jones also laundered $216,500 of his drug proceeds through other financial transactions.
Doctor and Clinic Owner Sentenced for Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Conspiracies
On March 18, 2015, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Joseph J. Mogan III, M.D., formerly of New Orleans, and Tiffany Miller, of Metairie, Louisiana, were each sentenced to 97 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In addition, forfeiture was ordered on the criminal proceeds and property. Morgan and Miller were sentenced on charges of conspiring to dispense prescription drugs illegally through “pill mill” clinics operated as Omni Pain Management in Metairie, Louisiana, and Omni Pain Management Plus in Slidell, Louisiana, and related money laundering charges. According to court documents, Mogan and Miller owned and operated the two clinics and conspired to prescribe narcotics and other controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the bounds of professional medical practice to drug seekers and drug abusers. To both promote the activities of the “pill mill” clinics and to disguise the nature of the proceeds, as wells as control the proceeds, Mogan used money orders to make investments and purchase other assets, while Miller used an attorney trust account and irrevocable trust to transfer funds and to protect real property and bank accounts from forfeiture and seizure.
Two Men Sentenced for Roles in Cross-Country Marijuana Distribution Ring
On March 9, 2015, in Phoenix, Arizona, two defendants were sentenced for their roles in a cross-country marijuana distribution ring. Darius Blackwell, of Mesa, Ariz., was sentenced to 110 months in prison and Grady Blackwell, of Lithonia, Ga., was sentenced to 60 months in prison. Both defendants previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to their plea agreements, the Blackwells participated in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana using the United States Postal Service. Their organization purchased marijuana in Arizona, mailed it throughout the United States, primarily to Georgia, and then arranged for the proceeds to be sent back to Arizona. Shipping records and seizures show that at least 50 kilograms of marijuana were mailed in this fashion. In addition, seven bank accounts were opened in March 2012 for the purpose of receiving and transferring the proceeds of the scheme. Nearly $410,000 was deposited into these accounts and over $395,000 was withdrawn.
Texas Cocaine Trafficker Sentenced for Conspiracy and Money Laundering
On Feb. 20, 2015, in Ocala, Florida, Rolando Pinon, of San Benito, Texas, was sentenced to 222 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Pinon was also ordered to forfeit more than $1.2 million dollars in property and cash, which were determined to be traceable proceeds of the offense. Pinon pleaded guilty on Nov. 25, 2014. According to court documents, since 2007, Pinon used various modes of transportation to move drugs from Texas to Ocala, and employed a series of drivers, including Jose Manuel Tovar. On Aug. 29, 2014, the Ocala Police Department conducted a traffic stop of a truck Tovar was driving on his way from Texas. During the stop and ensuing search of the vehicle, officers located a cooler that, once disassembled, was found to contain cocaine. Agents subsequently arrested Pinon in Texas. Tovar was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison on Jan. 22, 2015. During the course of the conspiracy, Pinon laundered drug money by amassing rental properties in Texas, placing the properties in various nominee names, and renting them for profit. He also purchased a parcel of property and opened a vehicle sales business known as Elik Motors. Elik Motors bought cars at auction and resold them. As part of the plea agreement, Pinon forfeited the rental properties, Elik Motors, and cash.
Ohio Man Sentenced for Cocaine Trafficking, Money Laundering and Firearms Possession
On Feb. 20, 2015, in Cleveland, Ohio, Troy Williams, of Willoughby Hills, was sentenced to 198 months in prison. Williams previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin, being a felon in possession of a firearm and three counts of money laundering. According to court documents, Williams was one of 12 people indicted for their roles in the conspiracy, which lasted between 2010 and 2013. All 12 have been found guilty. Williams supplied others with multi-kilogram shipments of cocaine. All the men charged then arranged for or assisted in the redistribution of the cocaine. Williams laundered approximately $72,730 in drug proceeds at the Horseshoe Cleveland Casino in July and November 2012. He did this by using cash from drug proceeds to purchase casino chips. Williams will forfeit 10 watches, $1,760 in cash as well as a pistol, ammunition and two loaded magazines.
Vermont Man Sentenced in Cross-Border Marijuana Trafficking Conspiracy
On Feb. 19, 2015, in Burlington, Vermont, Jeffrey Donna, of Richford, was sentenced to 32 months in prison and ordered to forfeit properties, vehicles, guns and $135,000 in drug money. In August 2014, Donna was convicted of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. According to court documents, Donna, and his co-conspirator, Roy “Opie” McAllister II, of Montgomery, were kingpins in a marijuana trafficking business that began in the mid-2000s and continued until the two were arrested on May 29, 2013. The two defendants were responsible for bringing bulk quantities of marijuana across the Canadian border into northern Vermont. Donna and McAllister moved between 1,000 and 3,000 kilograms of marijuana as part of the conspiracy. McAllister has been convicted of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and filing false tax returns in 2010 and 2011. McAllister’s sentencing has been scheduled. As part of the marijuana trafficking conspiracy, the two defendants were assisted by Jesse Soule, also of Montgomery, Vermont. Soule was sentenced to 13 months in prison for his role in the marijuana trafficking conspiracy. Eight other individuals have also been convicted of federal crimes arising out of this drug trafficking conspiracy.
California Man Sentenced on Drug and Money Laundering Charges
On Feb. 11, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio, Samuel A. Flek, of Orangevale, Calif. was sentenced to 36 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $339,045 in currency. Flek pleaded guilty on Nov. 5, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, beginning in April 2012, Flek was paid by a drug organization to make regular trips to Columbus, Ohio for the purpose of transporting narcotics proceeds from Ohio to California on behalf of co-conspirators. Flek often stored the money in his luggage and also began shipping the cash in FedEx boxes under an alias. Flek used a fraudulent Ohio driver’s license to rent a storage unit in Hilliard, Ohio to count, package, and prepare the drug proceeds for shipping. Flek transported and/or shipped more than $1.5 million in drug trafficking proceeds.
Arizona Man Sentenced on Drug and Money Laundering Charges
On Feb. 10, 2015, in Phoenix, Arizona, Carlos Antonio Garcia-Hurtado was sentenced to 168 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Garcia-Hurtado pleaded guilty on Oct. 6, 2014 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. According to the plea agreement, around June 2010 to on or about Dec. 10, 2013, Garcia-Hurtado was in agreement with others to receive and distribute marijuana from Mexico. The marijuana was brought from Mexico through the desert into Arizona by backpackers and then Garcia-Hurtado coordinated the distribution of bulk quantities of marijuana within the United States and the return of the drug proceeds to Mexico. Garcia-Hurtado also admitted to paying for a property, which is titled in his wife’s name, with the proceeds from the drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracies.
Texas Men Sentenced in Drug Distribution Conspiracy
On Feb. 9, 2015, in Wichita Falls, Texas, Rodolfo Trevino, of Wichita Falls, was sentenced to 97 months in prison. In June 2014, Trevino pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine base and one count of money laundering. Trevino was also ordered to forfeit a residence, two vehicles, a firearm and assorted ammunition. In mid-December 2014, co-defendant Rene Villastrigo, Jr., also of Wichita Falls, was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine. According to court documents, beginning in 2012 and continuing to April 18, 2014, Trevino and Villastrigo conspired with others to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. Trevino traveled frequently to McAllen, where he recruited another individual to transport drugs from McAllen to Wichita Falls. Trevino also recruited Villastrigo to rent a residence in Wichita Falls to store and repackage the drugs for distribution. Trevino deposited the drug proceeds he acquired into bank accounts in Wichita Falls and withdrew those deposits in the McAllen area, intending for these financial transactions to conceal his drug trafficking activity.
South Carolina Man Sentenced for Money Laundering, Drug Trafficking
On Feb. 5, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, Hadden Andre Smith was sentenced to 144 months in prison, four years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit over $248,000 that authorities seized from his residence. Smith pleaded guilty on July 31, 2012 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and conspiracy to launder money. According to court documents, upon executing a search warrant at Smith's residence, law enforcement officers found approximately $248,000 cash, 1.8 kilograms of marijuana, two firearms and drug packaging paraphernalia. Further investigation revealed that Smith used the drug proceeds to purchase several vehicles and had the vehicle titles put in the name of third parties to disguise the true ownership of the property.
First of Two Massachusetts Brothers Sentenced for Oxycodone Trafficking Scheme
On Jan. 22, 2015, in Boston Massachusetts, Joshua M. Gonsalves, of Dennisport, was sentenced to 240 months in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $1,522,372 and property. In October 2014, Gonsalves was convicted of oxycodone conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and money laundering. According to court documents, Gonsalves and his brother, Stanley D. Gonsalves participated in a three-year conspiracy involving the distribution of hundreds of thousands of 30-milligram oxycodone pills generating over $5 million in proceeds. The conspiracy’s couriers transported multi-thousand-pill loads of 30-milligram oxycodone pills from South Florida up to New England, first by plane and later by car. The primary object of the related money laundering conspiracy was to use the millions of dollars in drug proceeds to purchase additional oxycodone pills and to pay the ongoing expenses of the oxycodone conspiracy. Stanley D. Gonsalves, of Sandwich, was convicted of oxycodone trafficking conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and 17 substantive money laundering charges. Stanley Gonsalves’ sentencing has been scheduled.
Pennsylvania Man Sentenced for Drug Distribution and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering
On Jan. 20, 2015, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Ronald Belciano, of Newtown Square, was sentenced to 63 months in prison and four years supervised release. In February 2014, Belciano pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms of marijuana in and through central Pennsylvania and conspiracy to commit money laundering between December 2007 and November 2011. According to court documents, in 2011 Belciano rented a vehicle and paid a co-conspirator to drive the vehicle, containing $1,184,340 in U.S. currency, from Pennsylvania to California to pay for marijuana, some of which was grown on Belciano’s 190 acre property in Northern California. Agents obtained a search warrant for one of Belciano’s homes; during the search, agents located $2,582,920 in U.S. currency and 1.5 kilograms of marijuana. Law enforcement agents later located 68 kilograms of marijuana, $316,800 in U.S. currency and 59 paintings valued at over $600,000 in a storage locker and at a co-conspirator’s farm which was used to warehouse and distribute the marijuana transported from California to Pennsylvania. The assets seized and forfeited in this case included a residence, a 190-acre property in Laytonville, California, artwork appraised at over $619,000 and $4,084,060 in U.S. currency.
Louisiana Attorney Sentenced for Drug Conspiracy and Money Laundering
On Jan. 15, 2015, in Lafayette, Louisiana, Daniel James Stanford, an attorney, was sentenced to 121 months in prison and six years of supervised release. Stanford was convicted by a jury on Aug. 29, 2014 for conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance analogue, conspiracy to introduce or cause to be introduced misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, conspiracy to launder money and money laundering. Other defendants in this case were sentenced to terms ranging from 117 months to 42 months in prison. In addition, Curious Goods LLC was ordered to pay a $40,000 fine and ordered to forfeit $859,989 in illegal proceeds derived from the scheme, as well as two cars and a speed boat. According to court documents, Curious Goods LLC was a business based in Lafayette that marketed smoking and other products in stores throughout Acadiana. The stores sold a product called “Mr. Miyagi” that was infused with synthetic cannabinoids. Although mislabeled as a potpourri, “Mr. Miyagi” was sold to be smoked for the sole purpose of getting the consumer “high.” The synthetic cannabinoids infused into “Mr. Miyagi” are considered Schedule I controlled dangerous substances under federal law. From March 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2011, Curious Goods stores made approximately $5 million from the sale of “Mr. Miyagi.” Stanford was actively involved with the Curious Goods enterprise. Stanford knew the product was being consumed by humans. The intentional mislabeling and misbranding, spearheaded by Stanford, were part of a legal strategy to avoid law enforcement detection and to avoid civil and criminal liability.
Florida Man Sentenced for Oxycodone Distribution and identity Theft
On Jan. 9, 2015, in Boston, Massachusetts, Jose Perez, of Miami, Florida, was sentenced to 46 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In April 2014, Perez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute oxycodone, distribution of oxycodone, and identity theft. According to court documents, from at least 2011 through January 2013, Perez sold large quantities of oxycodone pills to co-conspirators in Massachusetts and Rhode Island who distributed the oxycodone pills in Massachusetts. Beginning in November 2011, Perez initiated an identity theft and tax refund scheme where he sold hundreds of legitimate names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of Puerto Rican residents to an undercover federal agent, intending that the identities be used to fraudulently obtain tax refunds.
Ohio Man Sentenced for Role in Cocaine Distribution Ring
On Dec. 11, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio, Stephen A. Cagle was sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $142,020 in cash and $14,800 in lieu of vehicles seized on his property, as well as at least 13 firearms. Cagle pleaded guilty on May 21, 2014 to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and money laundering. According to court documents, on about January 2010 through September 2011, Cagle and others were part of a large scale narcotics organization involved in importing, manufacturing and distributing cocaine. Specifically, Cagle was responsible for distributing multiple kilograms of cocaine. Cagle was also involved in operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, often transporting several hundreds of thousands of dollars from Ohio to Texas. While executing a search warrant at Cagle’s residence in September 2011, investigators discovered more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, several firearms, more than $142,000 in cash and several vehicles.
South Dakota Woman Sentenced in Drug and Money Laundering Conspiracies
On Dec. 8, 2014, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Faith Ashely Rasmussen was sentenced to 80 months in prison and four years of supervised release. Rasmussen pleaded guilty on Sept. 2, 2014, to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, from approximately January 2012 to December 2013, Rasmussen received marijuana through the mail in South Dakota from her source of supply in California. When the amounts of marijuana became too large to mail, Rasmussen had co-conspirators drive to California and back to South Dakota with large quantities of marijuana. In addition, Rasmussen deposited the proceeds of marijuana sales into her bank account in South Dakota. She also deposited drug sales proceeds into the account of her source of supply, and instructed a co-conspirator to deposit marijuana proceeds into her account. She never deposited more than $10,000 in cash per occasion to intentionally avoid bank reporting requirements.
International Drug Dealer Sentenced to Prison
On Nov. 19, 2014, in Raleigh, North Carolina, Andrew Wayne Landells, of Jamaica, was sentenced to 180 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a money judgment of $1,000,000 and forfeit his interest in several properties located in New Jersey and Florida. Landells previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. According to court documents, Landells directed the activities of his estranged wife, and at least seven co-conspirators to assist him in the trafficking marijuana from Mexico throughout, New York, Florida, Virginia, Arizona, and North Carolina. Landells then used the drug proceeds to purchase luxury vehicles and residences, and to rent residences in others’ names. In order to disguise the source of the proceeds from his illegal activities, Landells also operated sham companies purporting to be in the candle manufacturing business. Landells distributed up to 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and laundered money from drug proceeds through the straw purchase of at least seven pieces of real property, thirteen motor vehicles, and four businesses, all with a combined value of over $1,000,000.
Missouri Man Sentenced on Conspiracy Charges
On Nov. 17, 2014, in Springfield, Missouri, Travis E. Butchee was sentenced to 84 months in prison and ordered to forfeit to the government $1,354,034. On Oct. 15, 2013, Butchee pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and to conspiracy to commit money laundering for his role to distribute more than $1.3 million of synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as K2. According to court documents, between March 1, 2011, and June 24, 2013, Butchee conspired with others to defraud the Food and Drug Administration and to defraud the public by falsely representing that a number of synthetic cannabinoid products were “incense” or “potpourri” and “not for human consumption.” In reality, these substances contained compounds that were intended for human consumption as a drug. In addition, Butchee and his co-defendant Michael J. Saguto admitted that they 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. Michael J. Saguto was previously sentenced to 84 months in prison.
Illinois Man Sentenced on Drug and Money Laundering Offenses
On Nov. 13, 2014, in East St. Louis, Illinois, Demarcus L. Freeman, of East Alton, was sentenced to 151 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $10,000. On Aug. 7, 2014, Freeman pleaded guilty to distribution of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”), possession with intent to distribute cocaine base and money laundering. According to court documents, Freeman sold crack cocaine in Wood River, Illinois, on May 13, 2013 and again on June 4, 2013. On July 8, 2013, Police seized nine ounces of crack cocaine from Freeman which he admitted owning. Freeman also opened a credit union account in the name of a relative. Freeman laundered the proceeds of his drug dealing through the account, in an attempt to disguise the source of the money. Freeman laundered over $60,000.
Leaders of Large-Scale Drug Ring Sentenced to Life in Prison
On Oct. 17, 2014, in Detroit, Michigan, Carlos Ellis Powell, of Washington Township, and Eric Jerome Powell, of Franklin Farms, were sentenced to life in prison. Carlos and Eric Powell were convicted of violating various federal drug laws in a massive drug ring. According to court documents, the Powells and eleven others operated a drug organization that dealt in multi-kilogram quantities of marijuana, heroin and cocaine in the Detroit metropolitan area. The members of the organization would arrange for large amounts of money derived from the sale of drugs to be transported to Phoenix, Arizona, Mexico and elsewhere for the purpose of purchasing more drugs. As part of the conspiracy, the members of the organization would use semi-trucks and vehicles equipped with traps and hidden compartments to transport marijuana, cocaine and heroin, as well as cash generated from the sale of these drugs. The drug ring, which was one of the largest in metro-Detroit history, also laundered in excess of $21 million in U.S. currency. The members of the organization would deposit large amounts of cash from the sale of drugs into various bank accounts; purchase cashier's checks and money orders; and wire transfer these funds. These funds would then be used to purchase assets and pay personal expenses.
Nevada Drug Dealer Sentenced on Federal Charges
On Oct. 6, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Saul Candelorio Gastellum-Sanchez, a local drug dealer, was sentenced to 180 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Gastellum-Sanchez, aka Cervancio Perez-Zazueta, aka Bartolo Castillo, pleaded guilty in May 2014 to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, one count of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, one count of possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, unlawful re-entry of a deported alien, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. According to his plea agreement, from about June 1, 2012 to June 20, 2013, Gastellum-Sanchez conspired with six co-defendants to distribute 464 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover officer. On May 20, 2013, Gastellum-Sanchez purchased an ATV for $11,000 in cash, which were proceeds from the sale of methamphetamine. On June19, 2013, a federal search warrant was executed at Gastellum-Sanchez’ residence in Las Vegas, and law enforcement agents recovered over two kilograms of methamphetamine and several firearms. At the time of the crime, Gastellum-Sanchez was residing unlawfully in the United States and had been previously deported in January 2008.
Fiscal Year 2017 - Narcotics-Related Investigations
Fiscal Year 2016 - Narcotics-Related Investigations