Examples of Narcotics-Related Investigations - Fiscal Year 2016
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.
Member of Sinaloa Cartel Sentenced For Narcotics Distribution and Money Laundering
On September 23, 2016, in Chicago, Illinois, Edgar Manuel Valencia-Ortega, of Mexico, a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel was sentenced to 96 months in prison for his role in importing cocaine from Mexico and laundering millions of dollars in drug proceeds through textile, gold and other transactions. Valencia-Ortega pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to commit money laundering. More than 20 alleged members of the cartel were indicted including the cartel’s alleged leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is in custody in Mexico. According to court records, Valencia-Ortega was directly involved in the laundering of between $1.5 and $3.5 million of drug proceeds. Valencia-Ortega also brokered multi-kilogram cocaine transactions that resulted in deliveries from Mexico to customers in the Los Angeles area. Seizures netted approximately $30.8 million and about 11 tons of cocaine, 265 kilograms of methamphetamine and 78 kilograms of heroin.
California Woman Sentenced in Marijuana and Money Laundering Conspiracies
On July 15, 2016, in Syracuse, New York, Simona Borissova, of Danville, California, was sentenced to 24 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $273,665. On February 26, 2016, Borissova pleaded guilty to distributing marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, between January 2011 and August 2015, Borissova, who lived in Las Vegas, caused marijuana to be driven from a marijuana farm in Northern California, owned by her parents, to various stash houses in Las Vegas, where others would take possession of the marijuana and ship it to Utica, New York and other cities around the United States. Marijuana buyers and co-conspirators deposited money into various bank accounts, some held in the names of third parties including Borissova. Borissova withdrew cash to purchase more marijuana, pay expenses or otherwise spent it at her discretion. Borissova conspired with others to engage in money laundering involving $273,665, which was the total amount of money orders purchased with proceeds from the sale of marijuana in and around Utica, New York which was used for payment for the marijuana shipped from California to Utica, New York.
Ohio Man Sentenced in Connection with Drug Trafficking Ring
On May 5, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio, Ramiro Nonato Mendoza was sentenced to 160 months in prison. Mendoza pleaded guilty on November 4, 2015, to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin and more than five kilograms of cocaine and money laundering. According to court documents, Mendoza was one of 22 individuals charged with operating a drug trafficking ring that involved numerous kilograms of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. The defendants were also involved in the illegal employment of unauthorized aliens and the possession of numerous firearms. The defendants attempted to launder their drug proceeds by purchasing vehicles. More than $208,000 and 11 firearms were seized in connection with this case.
Owners of Head Shop Chain Sentenced
On April 29, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio, Sean Lightner and Sherry Lightner, both of Grafton, were sentenced to 36 and 24 months in prison, respectively. Nathan Albright, of Glendale, Arizona, was previously sentenced to 24 months in prison. Nearly $400,000 in cash as well as several firearms and automobiles were forfeited as part of the case. All three previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance analogue, as well as engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity. Dale Drummond, of Cleveland, and Mark Picard, of Whittier, California, have pleaded guilty to their roles in the case and await sentencing. According to court documents, the Lightners operated a chain of head shops -- retail stores specializing in drug and smoking paraphernalia -- doing business as Twilight Boutique, where they sold synthetic cannabinoids. The Lightners presented laboratory reports to others, including employees, alleging that the synthetic cannabinoids sold in the Twilight Boutique stores did not contain controlled substances or controlled substance analogues to give the appearance that the synthetic cannabinoids were legal when the Lightners knew they were illegal. The Lightners franchised one store location to Drummond where he also sold synthetic cannabinoids. Albright manufactured and sold synthetic cannabinoids through his company, Desert Distribution, LLC and Albright and Picard sold synthetic cannabinoids through their company, Royal Dutch, LLC.
Maine Men Sentenced on Marijuana Conspiracy Charges
On April 21, 2016, in Bangor, Maine, Malcolm French, of Enfield; Rodney Russell, of South Thomaston; and Kendall Chase, of Bradford; were sentenced to 175 months, 151 months and 60 months in prison, respectively, for conspiracy to manufacture over 1,000 marijuana plants. French and Russell were also convicted of harboring illegal aliens. French was ordered to pay a fine of $100,000 and Chase was ordered to pay a fine of $17,500. According to court documents, the offenses arose from a seizure on Sept. 22, 2009, of 2,943 marijuana plants. On Feb. 10, 2016, Haynes Timberland, Inc. was sentenced to pay a $100,000 fine for managing and controlling property used to manufacture marijuana. Haynes Timberland and French were also ordered to forfeit $1,550,000, a warehouse compound and a hunting camp that facilitated drug trafficking.
Alaska Man Sentenced for Role in Large-Scale Money Laundering Conspiracy
On April 18, 2016, in Anchorage, Alaska, David Edward Frazier was sentenced to 84 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a money judgment of $743,000, the total amount of drug money laundered during the conspiracy. Frazier previously pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to launder the proceeds of drug trafficking. According to court documents, the conspiracy began in March 2013 and continued until June 2013. Over the course of just these three months, Frazier sold nearly three kilograms of heroin and ten kilograms of cocaine and then delivered the cash from those sales back to his supplier in order to continue their drug trafficking operation. To date, nine others have been sentenced as part of these efforts with sentences ranging from 18 months to 135 months in prison.
California Man Sentenced for Structuring Financial Transactions Involving Drug Trafficking Proceeds
On April 11, 2016, in Fresno, California, Aseel Al-Saber, was sentenced to 12 months and a day in prison for conspiring to structure cash transactions. According to court documents, Al-Saber and seven co-defendants opened and maintained bank accounts for the purpose of funneling cash proceeds of marijuana trafficking from Florida and other states back to California. Al-Saber’s bank account was used to deposit and withdraw more than $72,000 in cash in amounts of $10,000 or less to prevent Currency Transaction Reports from being filed by the banks on those transactions. In addition, Al-Saber recruited two other individuals to have more than $30,000 in proceeds of marijuana trafficking funneled through their respective bank accounts. Over $700,000 passed through accounts opened and maintained by Thomas in structured transactions. Allegedly, members of the conspiracy structured more than $7.5 million in cash proceeds of marijuana trafficking. Two co-defendants were previously sentenced to 60 and 15 months in prison. Four other co-defendants have pleaded guilty and are scheduled to be sentenced. Yet another co-defendant is scheduled for trial.
Drug Trafficker and Money Launderer Sentenced
On April 7, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts, Miguel Fernandes, aka Orlando Sanchez, of Brockton and formerly of Los Angeles, California, was sentenced to 144 months in prison, four years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $1 million and a 2007 Ferrari. In January 2016, Fernandes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. According to court documents, Fernandez, as the organizer and leader, oversaw all aspects of a well-organized conspiracy responsible for the transportation and distribution of cocaine and marijuana from Los Angeles to Boston. Fernandes obtained the drugs from sources in Los Angeles, and utilized various means to ship the drugs to various cities in the greater Boston area. Fernandes and his co-conspirators also laundered the proceeds made from the sale of those drugs. The conspiracy utilized “funnel accounts” controlled by individuals in Los Angeles who allowed deposits for Fernandes to be made to their accounts in Massachusetts and withdrawn in Los Angeles. As many as 40 funnel accounts were utilized, through which Fernandes and his co-conspirators laundered as much as $5 million in drug sale proceeds. Co-defendants Nelson Teixeira, Michael Alves and Alex Gomes were sentenced to terms ranging from 24 to 30 months in prison.
Co-Conspirators Sentenced for Drug Trafficking, Money Laundering
On April 4 and 5, 2016, in Statesville, North Carolina, David Maldonado-Rendon, of Mexico, was sentenced to 210 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Seven additional co-conspirators were also sentenced to terms ranging from eight to 87 months in prison for their roles in the drug ring. Three more participants of the drug conspiracy, Fortino Maldonado-Guillen, James Davis, and the drug ring’s co-leader Maria Abernethy, aka Rosy Maldonado, will be sentenced at a later date. Two other indicted co-conspirators, Saloman Maldonado and Saul Maldonado-Guillen, aka Valeria Maldonado-Guillen, remain fugitives. According to court documents, from about 2010 to about November 2014, David Maldonado, at first working with his uncle, Fortino Maldonado, and later with his wife, Rosy Maldonado, established a drug trafficking operation responsible for distributing approximately 450 kilograms of cocaine. James Davis, Germaine Woodley and his brother, Larry Woodley, were David Maldonado’s main buyers. At different times, the remaining co-conspirators operated as drivers, or “drug mules,” for the drug conspiracy. David and Rosy Maldonado and their co-conspirators trafficked approximately 350 kilograms of cocaine and received more than $11 million in drug proceeds. David and Rosy Maldonado funneled most of the drug proceeds back to Mexico, after keeping a portion of the money for running the drug conspiracy. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized approximately $750,000 in U.S. currency, six vehicles and five properties.
Defendants Sentenced in Money Laundering Drug Conspiracy
On March 26, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa, Larry James Daly, of Urbandale, was sentenced to 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. According to court documents, Daly distributed methamphetamine he obtained from Hector Ruiz Ramos, aka Anthony Navarro, and Reynaldo Perez Aguirre. Ramos and Ricardo Aguilar Cisneros distributed multi-pound quantities of methamphetamine. Cornelio Villalobos Cardenas assisted in transporting methamphetamine from California to Iowa and he watched over properties used for the storage and distribution of methamphetamine. The co-conspirators used bank accounts for depositing drug proceeds, so the funds could be accessed in California. Aguirre, Cisneros, Ramos and Cardenas were previously sentenced to terms ranging from 210 to 96 months in prison. Two others await sentencing in this case.
California Man Sentenced for Drug and Money Laundering Conspiracy
On March 25, 2016, in Anchorage, Alaska, Joseph Cecil, aka “Kevin Dupree,” of Sacramento, California, was sentenced to 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Cecil pleaded guilty on December 22, 2015, to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin and conspiracy to launder money. His co-conspirator, Stacy Johnson also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and awaits sentencing. According to court documents, Cecil has a long history of violating the laws related to illegal drug possession, trafficking, and money laundering. Between January 2013 and January 2015, Cecil entered into an agreement with Johnson and others to distribute methamphetamine and heroin throughout Alaska. Cecil orchestrated a system wherein the drugs were sent from California to Alaska, where he took possession with the intent to distribute to Alaska communities. Furthermore, Cecil conspired with the others to launder the proceeds of the drug sales in an attempt to conceal and disguise the nature, source, ownership, and control of the funds. Cecil arranged for his co-defendants to use a series of bank accounts to move the drug money. Proceeds were deposited in Alaska and withdrawn in California. In other instances, Cecil instructed members of the group to send drug sale proceeds via wire transfers. Thousands of dollars were transferred from Alaska to California using these methods of money transfer.
Largest Cocaine Supplier to Alaska Sentenced
On March 25, 2016, in Anchorage, Alaska, Clarence Anthony Hatton, aka “C-Money,” of Las Vegas, Nevada, was sentenced to 192 months in prison, fined $40,000 and ordered to forfeit expensive vehicles and over $700,000 in drug proceeds. Hatton previously pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to distribute cocaine and launder the proceeds of cocaine trafficking. According to his guilty plea, Hatton conspired to distribute over 50 kilograms of cocaine to both Alaska and Michigan over a three year period and he received payment in cash through mail and parcel services. Hatton, who lived in Las Vegas, would obtain large quantities of cocaine from California, where he was from. He then paid employees at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport to take the cocaine into the employee entrance at the airport so it was not subjected to normal security. The employee would then meet with a traveler to Alaska (or Michigan) in the men’s bathroom in the secure area of the terminal and transfer the cocaine. Typically, ten kilograms were sent at a time, approximately twice a month. Over 250 kilograms of cocaine were sent to Alaska in this manner, and over 100 kilograms of cocaine were sent to Michigan using the same scheme. Hatton had been sending cocaine to Alaska for the past 20 years, and had amassed great wealth in doing so. Hatton is the latest and most significant in a string of sentencing hearings related to this drug trafficking scheme. To date, four individuals have been sentenced for participating in this scheme receiving 24 to 64 month prison terms.
Former Mexican Mayor Sentenced for Operating an Arizona-Based Drug Trafficking Organization
On March 7, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona, Arturo Reyes Trujillo, of Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, was sentenced to 262 months in prison. Trujillo was elected municipal president (mayor) in Fronteras, Sonora, Mexico in 2012. Trujillo previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to commit money laundering. In total, Trujillo was involved in sending approximately 1,000 kilograms of cocaine throughout the United States and laundered approximately $20 million. According to the plea agreement, from about Jan. 1, 2003, to July 28, 2007, the defendant (who was then living in Tucson) was the head of the drug trafficking organization that hired a network of individuals to deliver large shipments of cocaine, using passenger cars and tractor-trailer trucks, throughout the United States. The organization also brought back to Arizona millions of dollars in proceeds from cocaine sales. Law enforcement authorities seized over 77 kilograms of cocaine and over $490,000 in drug proceeds.
Leader of Marijuana Trafficking Network Sentenced
On February 23, 2016, in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ryan Tucker was sentenced to 292 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release for leading a drug trafficking network responsible for transporting more than one ton of marijuana and laundering over $1.7 million in drug proceeds. According to court documents, from about 2008 to about 2014, Tucker used individuals operating as “couriers” to transport marijuana from California to the Charlotte area. Tucker’s network of drug couriers included Tucker’s father, Frederick Elwood Tucker, a retired SBI narcotics agent. In most instances, Tucker’s couriers transported the packaged marijuana in vehicles and commercial freight carriers. Tucker also utilized his and other individuals’ bank accounts to launder the proceeds of his drug trafficking. Frederick Tucker, of Lead, South Dakota, was previously sentenced to 37 month in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in the drug conspiracy.
Massachusetts Man Sentenced for Marijuana Trafficking, Money Laundering and Tax Evasion
On February 17, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts, Eric W. Sliwa, of Berlin, was sentenced to 78 months in prison and four years of supervised release. On October 7, 2015, Sliwa pleaded guilty to a 34-count indictment. As part of his plea agreement, Sliwa agreed to forfeit over $1,000,000 in cash, gold coins and luxury vehicles. According to court documents, Sliwa, and others, distributed large quantities of marijuana between 2001 and 2012. In June 2006, Sliwa set up a company, EWS Gem Corp., for the purpose of concealing his drug proceeds and making it appear as though he had legitimate income. While Sliwa filed personal tax returns for the tax years 2008 through 2010, he failed to report all of the proceeds from his drug trafficking business. During the time period of the conspiracy Sliwa lived a lavish lifestyle and purchased several assets including his home, a condominium and multiple luxury vehicles.
Nevada Man Sentenced for Participation in Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Conspiracies
On February 12, 2016, in Anchorage, Alaska, Billy “Red Dollaz” Cooks, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was sentenced to 156 months in prison. Cooks previously pleaded guilty to conspiring with his co-defendant and girlfriend, E’lala Frank, and others to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. Cooks also pleaded guilty to conspiring with Frank to launder the illicit proceeds from his drug trafficking activity. According to court records, US Postal Inspectors in Anchorage intercepted a package from Cook to Dawud Johnson containing 443.5 grams of methamphetamine. Johnson was arrested shortly after receiving the package. Johnson communicated with Cooks in the days leading up to the shipment regarding a bank transaction in Frank’s name. Johnson deposited cash into Frank’s account that was subsequently withdrawn at an ATM near Las Vegas. Frank mailed the package of methamphetamine on Cooks’ behalf and Cooks, Johnson, and Frank moved various amounts of money through Frank’s bank account. Johnson previously received a sentence of 15 years in prison for his participation in this scheme.
Illinois Man Sentenced for Narcotics Distribution Conspiracy
On February 11, 2016, in East St. Louis, Illinois, Ronald Artis, of Cahokia, was sentenced to 60 months in prison and four years of supervised release. Artis previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and interstate travel in support of racketeering. According to court documents, from about January 2007 to about July 2014, Artis and others conspired to distribute controlled substances including cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. Specifically, from about July 5, 2014 to about July 8, 2014, Artis, along with several co-conspirators traveled from Illinois to Texas and Missouri with the intent of distributing cocaine.
Nearly Two Dozen Individuals Sentenced in Mexican Mafia Drug Conspiracy
On February 5, 2016, in Laredo, Texas, Juan Pablo Contreras, was sentenced to 390 months prison for his role in a drug conspiracy involving heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. According to court documents, Contreras was the main distributor of heroin. He would buy the drugs wholesale from Mexico and distribute it locally and to San Antonio. Nearly two dozen people recently received sentences ranging from 262 months to three years of probation for their roles in this drug conspiracy. All were charged in a 2013 indictment alleging members and associates of the Texas Mexican Mafia prison gang were involved in the drug conspiracy. They all previously pleaded guilty in this case. A residence purchased with drug proceeds will be forfeited to the government. The residence is valued at more than $300,000. A final defendant will be sentenced at a later date.
Pakistani National Sentenced in International Counterfeit Drug Conspiracy
On February 3, 2016, in Sherman, Texas, Muhammad Aijaz Sarfraz, from Karachi, Pakistan, was sentenced to 240 months in prison for drug trafficking violations. Sarfraz was convicted on May 14, 2015, of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute controlled substances and international money laundering conspiracy. According to court records, from March 2009 until his arrest in April 2012, Sarfraz operated numerous illegal websites through which he distributed millions of illicit Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances to internet customers throughout the United States. The pills, which were counterfeit and made to look like authentic prescription medications approved for use in the United States, often contained incorrect active pharmaceutical ingredients or the wrong quantity and dosage strength of those substances. It is estimated that the criminal enterprise may have generated as much as $100 million or more in proceeds between 2009 and 2012.
Tennessee Man Sentenced on Marijuana Conspiracy and Firearm Charges
On February 2, 2016, in Greeneville, Tennessee, David Elbert Hall, of Kingsport, was sentenced to 120 months in prison for his role in an extensive marijuana distribution conspiracy and possessing one or more firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking. According to court documents, between 2003 and 2015, Hall conspired to distribute and was accountable for at least 100 but less than 400 kilograms of marijuana. After another individual received shipments of marijuana from California, Hall often stored them at his farm in Mendota, Virginia. Hall also sold marijuana to a number of people, including his son, Michael Elbert Hall, of Kingsport, who was previously sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison for a marijuana conspiracy charge. Approximately 110 firearms, $56,989 in cash, thousands of rounds of ammunition and over six more pounds of marijuana were seized from Hall’s Kingsport residence. Two of the firearms were determined to be stolen. Five others were sentenced for their roles in this conspiracy to terms of 46 to 144 months in prison.
Michigan Man Sentenced for Role in Narcotics Money Laundering Conspiracy
On January 27, 2016, in Detroit, Michigan, Marcus Coates was sentenced to 72 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution and forfeit $1,917,145. According to court documents, Coates recruited individuals in California to use their bank accounts to launder the proceeds of his narcotics operation. Coates directed others to deposit the money received from the sale of narcotics into these accounts using bank branches located in Michigan. Coates also knew the deposits would be made in amounts under $10,000 to avoid mandatory reporting requirements. In California, the individuals recruited by Coates would withdraw the deposits from their accounts and, in return, would receive a fee from Coates for the use of their accounts.
Former Criminal Defense Lawyer Sentenced in Massachusetts for Marijuana Conspiracy
On January 26, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts, Edward Boyer, of Fall River, was sentenced to 108 months in prison, four years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $250,000. Boyer pleaded guilty in October 2015, to conspiring to distribute marijuana and money laundering. According to court documents, Boyer, a former criminal defense lawyer, was the leader of an organization responsible for the distribution of over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. Boyer was regularly shipping packages containing $20,000 to post office boxes in Mendocino, California. Boyer was also regularly receiving large boxes from Mendocino. From 2012 to 2014, suppliers in California shipped over 1,500 kilograms of high-grade marijuana to Boyer who sold it in the Fall River area to a network of distributors. Boyer shipped the proceeds back to the suppliers in California, totaling over $8 million, and used bank accounts to transfer the funds. Boyer’s seven co-defendants, including three individuals from California, have also been convicted and are awaiting sentencing.
Two Florida Brothers Sentenced for Bath Salts and Money Laundering Conspiracies
On January 27, 2016, in Greeneville, Tennessee, Michael Loren Sheaffer, of Pinellas Park, Florida, and Matthew Shawn Sheaffer, of Holiday, Florida, were both sentenced to 84 months in prison. Both Sheaffers were previously convicted of conspiracy to distribute, and possess with the intent to distribute, assorted Schedule I controlled substances and their analogues; and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, beginning in the summer of 2010, the Sheaffers began an elaborate criminal business of procuring, marketing, packaging, and distributing massive amounts of drugs commonly referred to as bath salts, spice, and synthetic marijuana. The Sheaffers utilized a website and a network of distributors to sell the drugs, a large portion of which were distributed from head shops and businesses in Tennessee. The resulting proceeds were then laundered, funneled back to the Sheaffers and other co-conspirators, and used to further perpetuate their drugs crimes. Niki Lyn Maxwell, of New Port Richey, Florida; Gretchen Elizabeth Sheaffer, of Pinellas Park, Florida; and Mitchel Lee Chambers, of Magnolia, Texas; were also sentenced in this case to terms of 54 to 87 months in prison.
Three Defendants Sentenced in Minnesota for Distributing Thousands of Pounds of Marijuana
On January 22, 2016, in Minnetonka, Minnesota, Alexander Edward Heying, Peter Gregory Heying and Acacia Lauren Ruiz were sentenced for conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Alexander Heying was sentenced to 140 months in prison, Peter Heying was sentenced to 36 months in prison and Ruiz was sentenced to time served. Alexander Heying was also ordered to forfeit a farm in California on which he grew marijuana, a residence, vehicle and gun. According to court documents, between at least 2003 and October 2012, the co-conspirators were responsible for trafficking several tons of marijuana into Minnesota primarily from large-scale grow farms in California.
Six Defendants Sentenced for Operating a “Pill Mill” in Georgia
On Jan. 22, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia, brothers Larry and Randy Webman, and Randy’s daughter, Dara Webman, all of Hollywood, Florida, were sentenced to 120 months, 132 months and 18 months in prison, respectively. Dr. George Williams, of Duluth, was sentenced to 84 months in prison and will give up his Georgia physician’s license. Liz Gaitan, of Lawrenceville, was sentenced to 48 months in prison. George Borbas, of Raleigh, North Carolina, was sentenced on Dec. 29, 2015, to 70 months in prison. According to court documents, the Webman brothers were the owners of a pain clinic. Dara was an office manager and Williams was a physician at the clinic. Borbas was a patient and recruiter for the clinic and Gaitan was a clinic employee. From approximately February 2012 through January 2013, the Webman brothers directed the decisions of Dr. Williams regarding prescribing controlled substances. The clinic saw as many as 60 customers a day, who usually paid in cash. These customers almost always left with a prescription for controlled substances. When customers made return visits, they rarely saw the clinic’s physicians, but instead, obtained additional prescriptions for controlled substances based upon an exam by Gaitan, a clinic employee with no medical authority to do so. On at least one occasion, Dara mailed opiate prescriptions to undercover officers posing as customers. Borbas sponsored the visits of numerous customers to the clinic in exchange for receiving a portion of the prescription pills the customers received.
California Man Sentenced in Marijuana, Money Laundering and Oxycodone Conspiracies
On Jan. 19, 2016, in Greenville, Tennessee, Morris Anthoney Phillips, of Culver City, California, was sentenced to 144 months in prison for his leadership role in an extensive marijuana, oxycodone and money laundering distribution conspiracy. According to court documents, Phillips was accountable for at least 954 kilograms of marijuana and 1,000 (30 mg) oxycodone pills. Phillips flew from Los Angeles to either Nashville or Knoxville on at least 14 separate occasions dating back to March 2012 to meet with co-defendants Glenn Draughn, and James Wright, both of Kingsport, Tennessee, and pick up bulk cash for drugs he was delivering to them and others. By 2013, Phillips involved his brother, co-defendant Antonio Barrington Parsley, of Culver City, California, in the conspiracies and introduced him to Draughn and Wright, among others. Usually, these meetings occurred every two months and involved at least $100,000 in cash each time. Draughn, Parsley, Larry Williams, of Mendota, Virginia, and Kenny Russell, of Kingsport, Tennessee, were sentenced to 63 months, 46 months, 140 months and 60 months, in prison respectively. Wright is scheduled to be sentenced.
California Man Sentenced to Prison Following Methamphetamine Trafficking Conviction
On January. 19, 2016, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Michael Montoya, of Clovis, was sentenced to 151 months in prison, ten years of supervised release and ordered to pay a money judgment of $60,000. On Oct. 1, 2015, Montoya pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and money laundering. In his plea agreement, Montoya admitted to arranging for drivers to travel to California in vehicles he provided so that they could transport methamphetamine from his sources of supply, distributing the methamphetamine in New Mexico and being the owner of 2.9 kilograms of methamphetamine seized from two of his co-defendants. Montoya also admitted that he purchased a residence with proceeds from his ongoing narcotics activities and that the drug trafficking proceeds were his only source of income from 2005 through 2011, and that he did not file federal income tax returns on that income during those years. Two others have pleaded guilty in this investigation.
Colombian Cartel Leader Sentenced for Trafficking Narcotics
On January 13, 2016, in Newark, New Jersey, Colombian national Salomon Camacho Mora, a/k/a “Papa Grande,” “El Viejo,” and “Hector,” was sentenced to 132 months in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $1.6 million and eight Colombian properties. On Oct. 15, 2014, Camacho pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit narcotics trafficking. According to court documents, Camacho and members of his drug organization purchased multi- kilogram quantities of cocaine from processing laboratories located in Colombia and arranged for the transportation of the cocaine to various shipping ports in Venezuela. Camacho and members of his drug organization then sold the cocaine shipments to other drug trafficking organizations operating in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the United States. Others in his organization received and stored the drug shipments in Venezuela, and arranged for their maritime transportation to Puerto Rico and the United States.
California Man Sentenced for Drug and Money Laundering Conspiracy
On January 11, 2016, in Anchorage, Alaska, Phillip Dixon, Jr., aka “Cheddar,” of Manteca, California, was sentenced to 180 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Dixon also agreed to forfeit several cars, $3,400 in currency seized from a a bank account used to launder money, and $25,000 seized from a safe deposit box. Dixon pleaded guilty on April 16, 2015, to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin and conspiracy to launder money. Dixon was the leader of a drug trafficking organization that sold drugs in Alaska, but whose members were for the most part from the Stockton, California area. Between April 2012 and April 2013, Dixon’s criminal enterprise distributed methamphetamine and heroin throughout Alaska. The conspirators used some of the proceeds of the sale of the drugs to fund their transportation and other operating expenses of the organization. Dixon arranged for his co-defendants to use a series of bank accounts to move money made from the sale of heroin and methamphetamine. Proceeds were deposited in Alaska and withdrawn in California. In other instances, Dixon instructed members of the group to send drug sale proceeds via money orders. Eleven others have been sentenced in this investigation receiving a range of five years of probation to 108 months in prison.
Nevada Man Sentenced for Shipping Illegal Drugs and Money Laundering
On Dec. 29, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Damien Williams, was sentenced to 151 months in prison, plus two additional consecutive years in prison. Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, conspiracy to launder money, and aggravated identity theft. According to the plea agreement, between May 2012 and October 2013, Williams used the identification documents of “Goldie Cage” to obtain a Nevada identification card, rent an apartment, obtain an automobile loan, and open bank accounts. During the same period, Williams was sending packages of controlled substances, including codeine and marijuana, to people in Tennessee and Texas. Williams received approximately $856,000 in proceeds, which were deposited by others into the bank accounts that Williams had opened under Cage’s name. Williams would then withdraw the funds and use them in furtherance of additional illegal drug activities. The deposits and withdrawals were structured in amounts of less than $10,000 in order to avoid federal bank reporting requirements.
Texas Couple Sentenced for Drug and Money Laundering Conspiracies
On December 21, 2015, in Nashville, Tennessee, Aldo Villarreal of McAllen, Texas, was sentenced to life in prison. His wife, Juana Edith Vela-Salinas, was sentenced to 240 months in prison. Both were also ordered to forfeit two pieces of property and pay a money judgment of $6,000,000. In July 2015, Villarreal was found guilty of conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine and marijuana. Both Villarreal and Vela-Salinas were found guilty of conspiring to commit money laundering. According to court documents, between 2008 and 2011, Villarreal was a manager in an extensive drug distribution operation. Villarreal and Vela-Salinas conspired to launder the proceeds of that drug operation through a variety of methods, including purchasing used vehicles in Nashville and then subsequently selling the vehicles at a used car lot the defendants owned and operated in Texas.
Texan Sentenced for Participating in a Cocaine Conspiracy
On Dec. 18, 2015, in McAllen, Texas, Alfonso Mata and Abelino Garza were sentenced to 87 months and 120 months in prison, respectively, and each will serve five years of supervised release. Mata and Garza pleaded guilty Feb. 5, 2013 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute large amounts of cocaine and money laundering. Co-conspirator Alberto Garcia-Saldivar, of San Benito was previously sentenced to 36 months in prison. The convictions are a culmination of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Operation dubbed “Landing Strip.” According to court documents, in 2012, federal law enforcement agents determined Mata and others were transporting large quantities of cocaine from South Texas to several cities in Ohio. Mata was arrested along with Garza and Garcia-Saldivar for their participation and agents eventually seized 17 vehicles, including several classic cars and eight properties, which Mata admitted he had purchased with drug profits. The combined value of the seized property is $1.5 million. To date, there have been approximately 10 other convictions in Texas and Ohio in relation to the investigation.
Three Texas Residents Sentenced in Five-Year Drug Conspiracy
On Dec. 15, 2015, in Brownsville, Texas, Mario Enrique Patlan and his daughter, Cristina Patlan, were each sentenced to 48 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Co-conspirator, Reymundo Abel Brown Jr. was sentenced to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release. All three defendants previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute narcotics. In addition, Mario Patlan forfeited two homes. According to court documents, from 2007 to 2012, Mario Patlan and Brown used their positions at UPS to receive and forward drug-laden packages via UPS air and ground transportation throughout the U.S. Cristina Patlan worked as a recruiter or go-between for her father and various drug trafficking organizations.
Leaders of $28.5 Million Drug Conspiracy Sentenced
On Dec. 15, 2015, in Kansas City, Kansas, Eduardo Perez-Alcala, of Independence, Missouri, and Hector Aguilera, of Sugar Creek, Missouri, were each sentenced to 162 months in prison. Both previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, Perez-Alcala and Aguilera were leaders of a $28.5 million drug trafficking organization. Aguilera was the recipient of shipments of cocaine from Perez-Alcala as well as two other Mexican sources of supply. During the investigation more than $2 million in cash, 194 firearms, 29 vehicles, 26 kilograms of cocaine and three kilograms of crack were seized and forfeited.
Narcotics Kingpin Sentenced for Drug Conspiracy and Money Laundering
On December 9, 2015, in Waco, Texas, Luis Lazino Sais, Jr., was sentenced to 120 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Sais previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute narcotics and money laundering. According to court documents, from about June 2006 until about February 2012, Sais and his co-conspirators willfully conspired to distribute narcotics in Texas and other areas. In addition, the proceeds generated from the sale of these illegal controlled substances were then laundered through financial transactions in the United States or moved to Mexico by Sais and his co-conspirators.
Alaska Resident Sentenced for Drug Dealing and Money Laundering
On Dec. 3, 2015, in Sacramento, California, DuWayne LeDoux, of Kodiak, Alaska, was sentenced to 84 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to structure cash deposits. According to court documents, LeDoux enlisted Sacramento resident Jennifer MacDougal, to obtain and ship methamphetamine and crack cocaine to LeDoux at various addresses in Kodiak and under various names, so that LeDoux could sell the drugs. LeDoux paid for the drugs by depositing cash into a bank account held by MacDougal in amounts designed to avoid bank reporting requirements. Co-defendant MacDougal was sentenced to 60 months in prison.
Florida Police Officer Sentenced for Role in Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy
On Dec. 2, 2015, in Newark, New Jersey, Ralph Mata, a/k/a “the Milk Man,” of Broward County, Florida, was sentenced to 120 months in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $75,405. Mata previously pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a narcotics conspiracy, conspiring to distribute cocaine and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity. According to court documents, Mata was a former lieutenant with the Miami-Dade Police Department, Internal Affairs. From June 2012 through November 2012, Mata purchased and smuggled at least six firearms which were ultimately provided to members of the Juan Arias Drug Trafficking Organization. Mata also provided guidance to Juan Arias about importing and distributing cocaine. He also engaged in monetary transactions in property derived from the sale of narcotics. On March 28, 2013, Mata traveled from Miami to New Jersey and received approximately $60,000 in narcotics proceeds. Using a portion of that $60,000, Mata made separate $10,000 cash deposits at two different bank locations. Mata accepted a total of approximately $100,000 in cash and gifts from the Juan Arias drug trafficking organization.
Mexican Man Sentenced in Kansas for Laundering $4.7 Million in Drug Funds
On Dec. 1, 2015, in Wichita, Kansas, Franz Wiebe Rempel, of Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua, Mexico, was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison for laundering more than $4.7 million in drug funds through his bank accounts in Kansas and elsewhere. Rempel pleaded guilty to money laundering. According to his plea, Rempel provided his bank account numbers so that another conspirator could distribute the information to others. Rempel had an understanding with the conspirator that third parties would deposit cash into his bank accounts. The deposits would be less than $10,000 in an attempt to avoid federal currency reporting requirements. Once Rempel received the funds, he would transfer or move the money through the U.S. financial system at the other conspirator’s direction. Rempel crossed the border from his home in Mexico almost on a weekly basis in order to move funds. Ultimately, most of the money wound up in the other conspirator’s hands. Rempel did not know the identities of the people making the deposits but he knew the funds were being transferred for the purpose of paying for drugs.
Tennessee Businessman Sentenced for Conspiracy to Distribute Synthetic Drugs and Money Laundering
On November 30, 2015, in Greeneville, Tennessee, Daniel Guy Bickley, of Bristol, Virginia, was sentenced to 24 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit over $300,000 in assets. Bickley pleaded guilty in September 2014, to conspiracy to distribute controlled substance analogues intended for human consumption and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, from approximately September 2010 through June 2012, Bickley trafficked in synthetic drugs to include stimulants (“bath salts”) and cannabimimetic substances (“fake weed” and “incense”). Bickley operated from various locations including Cloud 9 Emporium and White Cloud Emporium. During the less than two year period, he sold several million dollars’ worth of synthetic drugs and used the proceeds from the drug sales to purchase real and personal property in the names of other persons.
Nebraska Men Sentenced for Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering
On November 18, 2015, in Omaha, Nebraska, Doroteo Manuel Ponce was sentenced to 262 months in prison and five years of supervised release. On November 17, 2015, co-defendant Gilbert Navarro was sentenced to 60 months in prison and four years of supervised release. Both previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to court documents, Ponce arranged for large quantities of methamphetamine to be shipped and distributed. Ponce directed others to deposit monetary proceeds from drug trafficking into various bank accounts in order to funnel that money back to Ponce’s suppliers to pay for the drugs. Navarro, who owned Navarro Construction, used his business equipment and company trucks to unload and deliver the marijuana to his customers.
Florida Man Sentenced for Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering
On Nov. 12, 2015, in Charleston, West Virginia, Lester W. Taylor, of Daytona Beach, Florida, was sentenced to 120 months in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. Taylor previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges concerning distribution of oxycodone and laundering the proceeds of his criminal activities. According to court documents, from January 2010 through May 2014, Taylor was involved in trafficking pills from Florida to West Virginia using a variety of illicit methods. Taylor also admitted to obtaining prescriptions for oxycodone and hydromorphone from physicians in Florida and then having the prescriptions filled at pharmacies in West Virginia. After distributing the pills, Taylor’s co-conspirators deposited the proceeds in West Virginia bank accounts bearing Taylor’s name. Taylor would then withdraw the money in Florida in an effort to conceal the source of the cash and the pills.
Two Sentenced for Distributing Controlled Substance Analogues and Filing False Tax Returns
On Nov. 9, 2015, in Madison, Wisconsin, John C. Morrison was sentenced to 48 months in prison, and Anna F. Novak was sentenced to 96 months in prison. Both were also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and $186,000 in taxes they evaded. Morrison and Novak, owners of the JC Moon store in Ashland, previously pleaded guilty to distributing controlled substance analogues (“synthetic drugs”) at the store and filing false tax returns. Morrison and Novak distributed over 25 kilograms of synthetic drugs from late 2009 through the fall of 2013 at the JC Moon store. The sales of the illegal drugs generated over $2 million in receipts and the defendants skimmed approximately $576,000 leading to the evasion of $186,000 in federal taxes.
Illinois Doctor Sentenced for Illegally Dispensing Controlled Substances
On November 4, 2015, in Benton, Illinois, Naeem Mahmood Kohli, a medical doctor, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Kohli was also ordered to forfeit his office building and $34,419. According to court documents, Kohli operated the Kohli Neurology and Sleep Center, in Effingham. On January 27, 2015, Kohli was found guilty on seven counts of illegally dispensing controlled substances to patients who suffered from drug addiction. Kohli illegally dispensed oxycodone and hydromorphone, both highly addictive controlled substances, outside the usual course of the medical practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
Two Members of Mexican Mafia Sentenced
On November 2, 2015 in Los Angeles, California, Manuel Hernandez was sentenced to 57 months in prison and three years supervised release. On November 3, 2015, Roberto Muriel was sentenced to 108 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Both men previously pleaded guilty to a one count of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations conspiracy (RICO). According to their plea agreements both men were involved in the Mexican mafia on an ongoing basis to assist in carrying out its activities. Hernandez's role in the conspiracy was to extort or collect "taxes" for the mafia from criminal street gang members and others which enable them to continue trafficking narcotics and exert influence over their neighborhoods and to seek protection or assistance from the Mexican mafia. Muriels role in the enterprise included, but not limited to, passing messages on behalf of his con-conspirators that authorized murders of gang members and associates.
Massachusetts Man Sentenced for Marijuana Trafficking and Money Laundering
On October 14, 2015, in Boston, Massachusetts, Huy Anh “Henry” Lam, of Worcester, was sentenced to 84 months in prison and four years of supervised release. Lam was also ordered to forfeit property and pay a money judgment of $500,000. In February 2015, Lam pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, money laundering conspiracy, structuring conspiracy, structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements, money laundering, and unlawful monetary transactions. According to court documents, from 2010 to 2014, Lam trafficked at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, which generated millions of dollars in proceeds. He then used the laundered drug proceeds to purchase property in Worcester and luxury vehicles. Co-defendants Nhi Ai Thi Lam and Diemphuc Thi Lam were previously sentenced to 18 months in prison and 12 months and a day in prison respectively.
Tennessee Pill Mill Owner Sentenced
On October 1, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Faith Blake was sentenced to 528 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $2,700,000. Blake pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute prescription drugs outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. Blake also pleaded guilty to failing to appear after she was released on conditions of bond and became a fugitive. According to court documents, Blake was involved in two drug conspiracies. One conspiracy involved Superior One Medical Clinic, which she co-owned with her mother Barbara Lang. The other conspiracy involved Elite Care Medical Clinic, which was solely owned by Blake. Three others involved in the operation of the clinics have been sentenced. Dr. Jerome Sherard, the medical director for Superior One and Elite Care, was sentenced to five years in prison. Charles Larmore, a nurse practitioner who worked at Superior One and co-defendant Barbara Lang’s clinic, Primary Care, was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Barbara Lang, Blake’s mother, was sentenced to 280 years in prison. Over $500,000 in seized assets were forfeited as part of their sentences. Blake’s clinics distributed over 28 kilograms of oxycodone (or almost 1,000,000 tables of Oxycodone 30mg pills) to thousands of individuals, many of whom illegally abused the drugs and redistributed them to others. Oxycodone pills are typically sold on the street for $1 per milligram. The clinics catered to pill-seeking individuals from the Southeastern United States.