News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2006

Assets Worth Millions Seized from Oklahoma Horse Ranch

Sheldon J. Sperling, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, announced today that seven of eight defendants charged by federal complaint in the Eastern District of Oklahoma, have been bound over for further federal court proceedings.

“Preliminary hearings and detention hearings were held by United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma for SAMUEL E. VALDIVIA, age 43, RHONDA PHILPOT-VALDIVIA, age 38, PAUL PHILPOT, age 61, TRAVIS E. PHILPOT, age 28, TWILA NELSON, age 33, DAVID NELSON, age 45, and HOYET PHILPOT, age 58, all of Sequoyah County, Oklahoma,” stated U. S. Attorney Sheldon J. Sperling.

“The court found that the evidence was sufficient to establish probable cause that each defendant committed the offense as charged in the criminal complaint. The complaint, filed April 28, 2006, charged each defendant with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute controlled substances,” noted U.S. Attorney Sperling.

“SAMUEL E. VALDIVIA was ordered detained by the United States Marshals Service, pending further court proceedings.”

“PAMELA PEARSON, age 45, also of Sequoyah County, is set for detention hearing next Tuesday, May 9, 2006.”

“Defendants who were released are subject to the following conditions,” noted U. S. Attorney Sperling.

RHONDA PHILPOT-VALDIVIA was released subject to electronic monitoring by the United States Probation Office, and a $20,000 cash deposit.

PAUL PHILPOT and TRAVIS PHILPOT were released pending a $25,000 unsecured bond.

Defendants DAVID NELSON, TWILA NELSON, and HOYT PHILPOT, all waived preliminary hearing, and were bound over for further court proceedings, under the following conditions: 1) travel is restricted to Eastern District of Oklahoma unless given permission to travel by the U. S. Probation Officer, 2) avoid all contact, directly or indirectly, with any persons who are or who may become a victim or potential witness in the subject investigation or prosecution, including but not limited to co-defendants, 3) refrain from possessing a firearm, destructive device, or other dangerous weapons, 4) refrain from excessive use of alcohol, 5) refrain from use or unlawful possession of a narcotic drug or other controlled substances, and 6) submit to any method of testing required by the pretrial services office or the supervising officer for determining whether the defendant is using a prohibited substance.

An Indictment does not constitute evidence of guilt. An Indictment is a method of bringing formal charges against the defendant. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and may not be found guilty unless evidence establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The complaint alleges that SAMMY VALDEVIA engaged relatives and others to transport large amounts of drugs and drug proceeds to and from various locations throughout the United States,” U. S. Attorney Sperling indicated. “The affidavit underlying the complaint asserted that defendant VALDEVIA ran a drug and money shipping business for this organization, primarily utilizing vehicles and horse trailers, some of which had hidden compartments and false walls.”

“The affidavit underlying the criminal complaint also alleges that amounts of cocaine ranging up to 2,000 kilos were distributed by certain of the alleged conspirators,” noted U. S. Attorney Sperling. “The affidavit also details U. S. currency seizures of $1.9 million, $892,488, $119,900, and $1,000,000.00 in incidents which occurred in the past year,” U. S. Attorney Sperling reported.

“The affidavit further asserts that a 2004 Corvette, a 2004 Ford F-100 pick-up, a GMC Sierra pick-up, and a Chevrolet Avalanche were purchased by certain of the defendants, and are residents in the Sallisaw area. They were purchased in a manner so as to avoid reporting requirements under federal law,” noted U. S. Attorney Sperling.

The complaint and arrests were part of a coordinated 14-month investigation into VALDIVIA’s alleged drug trafficking organization that led investigators from Sallisaw, Oklahoma to McAllen, Texas and New York City, New York.

On May 2, 2006, law enforcement officers executed seven search warrants and eight arrest warrants for members of this organization. “All process has been effected without incident,” U. S. Attorney Sperling said. “Areas to be searched included VALDIVIA’s 48 acre ranch where VALDIVIA is alleged to have resided and operated his quarter horse training facility, and his stables located at Blue Ribbon Down in Sallisaw. VALDIVIA allegedly used his horse training and racing business as a cover to facilitate the transportation of the drugs and laundering of the cash proceeds.”

In addition, several assets were seized including a 2006 Hummer H3, a 2005 Cadillac STS, and 6 other vehicles, a fifth-wheel camper, a fifth-wheel horse trailer, a John Deere tractor with back hoe and front bucket attachments, a Massey Ferguson tractor, a boat and a refurbished antique 1957 Chevrolet truck.

“We encourage anyone who may have relevant information concerning this matter, to call us at 918/684-5100, or the U. S. Attorney’s Duty AUSA at 1-800-946-4646, or the Drug Enforcement Administration at 918/459-9600,” stated U. S. Attorney Sperling.

This investigation was initiated in January of 2005, by the Drug Enforcement Administration and combined the investigative efforts of the DEA, the Internal Revenue Service, the Tulsa Police Department, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Sand Springs Police Department, the Sapulpa Police Department, the Broken Arrow Police Department, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and the United States Marshals Service.